Looking for the next Thomas Edison? Try Africa

Most of the news from Africa is grim (AIDS, Mugabe, Darfur), but the website AfriGadget, founded by Erik Hersman, who grew up in Sudan and Kenya, provides a smart (and entertaining and celebrity-free) corrective to the recent stream of depressing headlines. The blog site allows you to see a frequently updated catalogue of ingenious devices — like a motorized bicycle that gets about 100 miles per gallon (or 60 miles on a full two-liter tank) — that Africans have invented to solve their everyday problems.

Useful inventions for powering schools and villages are inspiring, but some of the site’s most ambitious projects are jaw-dropping. In particular, check out the profile of a Nigerian who built a working helicopter out of scrap metal and car parts. If someone could start a relief organization to get serious technology into the hands of these do-it-yourselfers, maybe we’d have moon colonies by the end of the year — or at least longer-lasting cell-phone batteries.

Note: The site is best viewed with Safari or Internet Explorer.

VIEW A helicopter made from scrap

VISIT AfriGadget

SEARCH Ask.com for more information on AfriGadget

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here.