Hardware Things: Much ado about motorcycles
I hope you had a great May. This month’s letter has a lot of long paragraphs, please accept my sincerest apologies.
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Things I Enjoyed Reading
Osarumen Osamuyi wrote a beautiful (and as such, lengthy) essay about the rise of motorcycle hailing services on the continent and the inherent opportunities that they (could) unlock. On the other hand, Yomi Kazeem presents the legal regulations they have to contend with in order to succeed. Complement those views with research from Engineering for Change exploring transit costs per (type of) commute on the continent; while their study had other intentions, they share an interesting finding from Bajaj Auto - there is a correlation between a country’s per capita GDP and the popularity of motorcycle taxis.
Still on motorcycles, GetBoda (logistics company) and Opibus (solar-powered car retrofitting company, profiled by BBC) are partnering to manufacture electric cycles in Kenya. Their goal: to build 3000 cycles a month.
As the continent began to implement the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement two days ago, Nigeria, Benin and Eritrea are the only countries yet to sign on. Prinesha Naidoo, writing in Bloomberg, reports that this is due to companies scared of losing ‘super profits’. On the other hand, Ghana - which the IMF says will have the fastest growing economy this year - stands to benefit from the agreement. You may recall that last year, in my feature for The Prepared, I argued that the agreement could reduce supply chain headaches for African manufacturers.
Anki, Jibo, and Kuri may have all shut down, but no one has written a better postmortem on why social home robotics startups have failed than Guy Hoffman for the IEEE Spectrum magazine.
How shipping Semi Knocked Down (SKD) or Completely Knocked Down (CKD) parts from China could save tariffs.
Finite Element Method as a Service (it’s actually different from what one would think).
An EEG headgear that’s actually nice to look at.
The Arduino SIM - so now you can develop cellular IOT projects (while it works in Nigeria, Ghana and SA, the service doesn’t cover Morocco, Egypt or Kenya yet).
We’re listening to louder sound than ever before, but the tools to test our hearing are still quite expensive. In Pretoria, HearX is developing technology for audiology tests, both hardware and software.
Tweet of the Month
Silicon looks very much like a dry port.
Last month, I snuck into NY for the screening of Fresh Agege Bread, a beautiful short film on the production process behind one of Lagos’ most eaten food products. Produced by Chika Okoli’s For Africans, it’s released now (completely free) on YouTube.
I’m part of an effort to document maternal health interventions in Nigeria over the last 19 years - whether state-led, donor-led or community based. If you’re a resource person or know a public health professional who I can speak to, please let me know by replying.
Have a great month.