Written by Madeleine Cowley
31 Tuesday 31st May 2011

The above image shows a homemade working helicopter made by Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi of the Kano Plains of Nigeria. The feat of engineering was eight months in the making and is constructed from scrap aluminium and parts from a Honda Civic, an old Toyota and the remains of a crashed Boeing 747. The inventor has had no formal flying instruction and thus far can only reach a height of seven feet but the ambitious inventor has a new project in the pipeline, to build a helicopter that can make three hour flights.

Three men from Somaliland have also tried their hand at building a helicopter from scratch in their backyard, in the hope of using it for firefighting in their local area. Despite their great efforts they haven't quite managed to get it off the ground though.

This man from Lamu Island, Kenya is in the process of building his own boat out of reclaimed materials. The main part of the vessel is made from plastic water bottles collected from the beach, to waterproof he uses recycled slippers to seal the gaps and boiled tar is applied to glue the componants together. The boat is similar to David de Mayer's Plastiki, an 18m catamaran made from 12,500 reclaimed plastic bottles that successfully sailed the Pacific Ocean in 2010.

This video shows Sam 10 a robot constructed almost entirely out of used television sets by Togolese student and robot obsessive Sam Todo. The young inventor eventually hopes to make the robot fully automatic so that it can greet people, avoid objects and calculate the distance of an object in front of it.

Dr Cedrick Ngalande invented the Green Erg, a contraption that harnesses (literally) a person's movement in order to generate electricity. The dynamo is driven as a result of friction between the ground and the blocks and creates about 2 watts of electricity, enough to power small electrical devices including mobile phones and radios. The Green Erg could also be attached to an ox cart, a skateboard or a bicycle.

The Rendille Tribe utilised the packaging from US aid bags to make a protective outer wall for their traditional huts in the deserts of Northern Kenya.

Ingenuity starts young in Africa. The boys from Township Khayelitsha, South Africa employed an innovative method for making homemade footballs. Old clothes or blankets are fitted inside condoms that are partially inflated so they become football sized. To strengthen the ball and give it shape it is wrapped in strips of material, encased in a plastic bag and finally reinforced by being tied with strong rope or wire.

Further examples of astounding African innovation can be found here

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