It’s just over two weeks until one of the most exciting events in this year’s tech calendar kicks off: on 3-6th December MakerFaire Africa is coming to Johannesburg and the Museum of African Design, and if you’re even remotely of a creative bent – or know someone else who is – there’s still time to get involved.

MakerFaire Africa is a celebration of African invention. Whether it’s building robots, making toys, turning scrap into art, programming Arduino boards or hacking away at the Internet of Things, MakerFaire Africa is about sharing your work and learning new skills from others. It’s a four-day festival of workshops, competitions and demonstrations of inventions which will delight, entertain and solve specifically African problems.

Previous MakerFaire Africas have been held in Nairobi, Lagos, Cairo and Accra. They have been hugely successful not only in bringing people from all creative disciplines together to share their work, but also in identifying previously undiscovered brilliance and raising it to international attention.

In Lagos in 2012, a group of schoolgirls found global fame for their generator that turned urine into electricity. In 2010, Kenyan Alex Odundo showed off his sisal decorticator – three machines for turning grass into rope – at MakerFaire Africa in Nairobi. A farmer by trade, he now manufactures and sells his machinery to other sisal growers to help increase their income – because processed sisal is about 20 times more valuable than selling the cut grass.

Themes for MakerFaire Africa Johannesburg include Urban Farming Hacks, Rural Robots, Braided Building: The Aesthetics of African Tech, How to Start a Makerspace, Cryptocurrency for Makers, a Scrap Safari, an internet of things Hackathon sponsored by Intel and a visit from the creators of BRCK, the ruggedised router that takes the internet to the most inhospitable places on the planet.

South Africa has a rich and booming makers scene already. Community makerspaces in Johannesburg, Centurion, Durban and Cape Town are leading the world in low cost 3D printing, robotics and programming, turning hobbiests and enthusiasts into entrepreneurs and business people on the bleeding edge of development for the Internet of Things. In the phrase of Wired founder Chris Anderson, makers are the new industrial revolution.

But we’ve been chatting extensively to the organisers of MakerFaire Africa – all volunteers who do this simply for the love of maker culture – and they still need your help to make MakerFaire Africa Johannesburg as inclusive as it can be.

To reach the truly undiscovered inventors – whether in South Africa or one of our neighbours – who have built something that solves a specific need in their lives and may never think others would be interested in their work, it’s going to take more than an article on a website like ours. If you know of anyone – friend, family, friend of a friend’s family friend – who’s inventive and ingenious and who you think should be at MakerFaire Africa to show off their work and meet other like-minded hackers, point them at the MakerFaire Africa sign-up site here. is an official media partner of MakerFaire Africa. We’ll be blogging and broadcasting live from the festival hall at the Museum of African Design on 3-6th December.

[Main image – Custom trike made from scrap at MFA Lagos, from this slideshow by @WhiteAfrican]


Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar,, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.