Proudly Ugandan 2009 was an expo designed to promote locally made products, as the country is gearing up for January 1st, 2010, when the East African Community will become common market. Exhibitors included some big shot manufacturers, like Nile Breweries, Fresh Dairy or Finance Trust, but what caught my eye were three home-made inventions showing wonderful resourcefulness and imagination.
1. The Charcoal Fridge (mixed media)
In a country where electricity is scarce, expensive and fickle, a collective of women came up with an idea to use charcoal for something more than just cooking supper.
The cordless fridge weighs about 70lb but can be built for less than $20. The bottom consists of a metal sheet, while the walls and the lid are filled with charcoal, kept in place by a wire-mesh. A plastic bucket is placed on top and needs to be regularily refilled with water, which then drains via cotton strings through the whole construction and keeps the coals moist, thus maintaining the temperature inside at 5-10° Celsius.
2.The Charcoal Stove (metal)
A happy, let alone economical, marriage between the traditional way of cooking on coals and stones, and the modern range. Using the charcoal stove – designed by women as well – it looks like you can cook a meal for a family of 15 at a single go.
Apparently some foods, like the ubiquitous matoke (mashed plantains) can only be properly prepared by slowly steaming it over charcoal, which explains why I have failed to achieve the desired results by boiling them sacrilegiously on my gas stove…
3. Rural Works Vehicle (scrap metal)
All cars currently driving Uganda are used, third-hand vehicles imported mostly from Japan. But one.
The first car manufactured in Uganda is a brainchild of Katwe Metal Fabrication Kluster and came to life with the support of Makarere University and the Ministry of Trade,Tourism & Industry. I’d say the design is Land Rover inspired, with a hint of Hummer to it. No need for keys, as you just wind it up with a wrench-like tool from the outside. Seats are comfy.