The subject of our special series this week is appropriate technology, which is designed to meet the needs of a particular group of people and make use of the resources available to them. It is a concept that can help impoverished people around the world. Appropriate technologies are inexpensive and wherever possible, the material used is available locally; the products are easy to build and maintain. Examples include solar operated cooking stoves and inexpensive bricks made from local clay.
A company called Appropriate Technology Africa (ATA) helps poor people make, sell and use these products. The founder and chairman of ATA is Andy Whyte. He spoke with VOA English to Africa Service reporter Cole Mallard about who uses appropriate technologies. He says in Zimbabwe that includes cooking oil machines, peanut butter machines, maize molds, wheelbarrows, hand tools, gold production molds, mining equipment and fishing rods.
Whyte says because electricity is sometimes scarce, diesel power is used, and many machines are operated manually: He says a good example is a manually operated peanut butter machine: “A woman for less than 20 US dollars can buy her machine and be producing peanut butter – maybe up to 10 bottles a day – and she can then market it to the surrounding area.” Whyte says ATA is also interested in promoting employment using appropriate technology: “My company, at the moment, between Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa, we bring in 20 to 25 containers a year of equipment, so that can equate to thousands of new jobs every year through our appropriate technology machinery that we are assembling, distributing and selling in Africa.”
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