How Young Africans Are Turning Trash Into Fortune

At a time when our world is really fighting hard with ecological problems rising from the trash we discarded or dumped either in the oceans or any other places, many people and organisations are promoting awareness on how we can save our planet from these problems and one major maxim used in this sense is to reuse and recycle.

In making this maxim work, many Africans are also not relenting in their support for this. In fact, some smart and talented Africans are using the waste or trash collected to good use, even beyond what one can imagine, and this post will highlight six of these smart Africans who are turning trash into a fortune!


Mpho is a South African inventor and he used trash in making all his inventions.

Mpho started experimenting with discarded electronics he picked from dumping sites and while he was in fifth grade, he built a movable toy car from tins and wires. Because of his passion for robotics, Mpho left his hometown, Kopernym, Polokwane to study robotics.

In 2015 he moved to Soweto to start his education in robotics engineering but struggled with the cost of living there. So, Mpho continued the creation of robots and cars to display and sell in the streets of Soweto, to raise money both for his livelihood and education.

Among his inventions are a movable car, a crane, a drone, a water pump machine, a grass trimmer and the hygiene alert machine that he built during the COVID-19 pandemic, the machine looks like a wristwatch and makes a sound whenever you attempt to touch your face.

All these inventions were made out of nothing but trash. The inventions of Mpho and his interest in robotics have made him earn the nickname, Mr Robot Maker.


Probably the craziest of them all, because how on earth can someone build a whole radio station from trash?!

For many of us, this is very impossible but for Doe, it’s very possible, because he had done it already!

Yes, I mean this guy built a radio station from trash he picked up from dumping sites or wherever he sees it.

Born and raised in Sierra Leone’s capital city, Freetown, Doe went viral after his documentary video got published on YouTube, thanks to his fellow countryman and engineer David Sengeh, who discovered him through a local youth-oriented innovation challenge organised by David himself.

Doe started his inventions at the age of 10, at that time, he would pick up discarded electronic parts and products from random places like dumping sites after school, on getting home, the little Doe would dismantle all these components tracing how they were made and then used these components to build his own inventions, making him a self-taught engineer.

The discovery of Doe marked the beginning of great things for the young engineer because through David, he was invited by MIT for a visiting practitioner’s program, making him the youngest person ever to be invited.

The amazing story of Kelvin Doe has made him meet many of the world leaders, including Hillary Clinton and Ghana’s president, President Nana Akufo-Addo.

His inventions include a multi-channel audio mixer, a hand power generator, an FM radio transmitter and batteries that he used to power lights in his community, all these inventions were made out of trash and scraps.


It seems like it’s not only the engineers that see the potential of turning trash into fortune because the story of Mulalo is very different from the two above.

As for Mulalo, he used trash to build a whole city in his backyard! It all started for Mulalo back then in 2010 during the FIFA World Cup, held in South Africa. Among the stadiums that were used then was the FNB Stadium and when Mulalo saw the FNB Stadium then, he wanted to go there but his parents couldn’t afford the ticket fee.

So, Mulalo thinks that if he can’t visit the FNB Stadium in its real abode, why can’t he build his own FNB Stadium and that’s how the journey of the building of the Negocity began.

For 12 years, Mulalo worked hard to make his dream a reality and finally, he achieved his goal of building the FNB Stadium and even with other notable buildings which all finally resulted in the miniature of the city of Johannesburg and Mulalo called it the Negocity.

The amazing thing about this is that this city was built using trash and other materials throughout the building of the mini-city. The creation of the city opened a lot of doors for Mulalo, like getting him a scholarship and also getting him a job as an architect.

The creation of this city also got the attention of the FNB Stadium management and they sponsored Mulalo an all-paid trip to the stadium to watch a live match with his family, fulfilling his 2010 dream.


As we are exploring this list of how Africans are turning trash into fortune, even the artists are not left out, because Mounou Desire Koffi is an amazing artist using discarded mobile phones to make beautiful and wonderful masterpieces.

Mounou Desire Koffi is an artist from the city of Buyo in Ivory Coast. The guy began his art at a very young age making drawings and even won an art contest at the age of nine. With his passion for art, Koffi studied at the Abidjan Art School and after graduation, he furthered his education in art and attended Les Beaux-Arts, where he obtained his bachelor’s degree.

As a young contemporary artist, Koffi wanted to contribute something new to the world of arts and that’s what led to making use of keyboards and screens of discarded mobile phones in his works.

He said the inspiration behind this is the maxim of reuse and recycling and through this, Koffi is giving a second life to the dead and discarded mobile phones.

His works have been exhibited in Morocco, Belgium and France. Records also have it that some of his works cost an average of $1500 and definitely, this guy is truly turning trash into a fortune!


And even a sculptor made the list.

But before you start guessing about what materials this guy uses in his works, I will advise you not to bother, because you may not guess right and the reason is that, this guy uses the last thing you can think of, TYRES!

Yes, tyres!

Earnest is a Nigerian sculptor from Lagos city that creates fascinating images using discarded tyres. According to Earnest, the inspiration behind this is to make Lagos city clean by transforming what people called trash but for him raw materials into wow images.

Earnest used to go around Lagos, scouting for used tyres to use for his works. He said in a video on BBC News Africa website that, the kind of tyres he gets determines most of the things that he built with them.

Earnest works are mainly of animal sculptures and in his over seven years of doing this, the guy has created a long list of animal figurines, including a crocodile, a rabbit, a horse, a unicorn and lots more.

It seems this guy is really making something worthwhile with his crafts because his works have been ordered from different countries including France, the Czech Republic and even Ohio in the US.


An enterprise in Nairobi, Kenya, with the goal of making the African and world oceans and beaches clean.

What Ocean Sole do is that they collect flip-flops from oceans and beaches and turn them into great and fascinating masterpieces of art. This company doesn’t really focus on making a profit but instead makes life easy for people in the country of Kenya by making use of flip-flops.

One way they do this is by selling the sculptures made from these flip-flops and then using the money for the education of people in the country.

The company boasts of over ninety employees and the company also made it known that they collect an average of forty-seven thousand kilograms of flip-flops yearly and all of these are turned into beautiful and amazing figurines of different kinds, sizes and colours and through the collection of this flip-flop waste, this company is creating employment for many Kenyans, saving our planet from pollution and also saving our trees from deforestation, because with a company like Ocean Sole, there is no need for making use of wood for sculpting anymore.

So, here we come to the end of the post, now you can see how Africans are turning trash and discarded materials into something worthwhile and making fortune from what many of us see as rubbish.

These people deserve accolades from all of us because even though it may seem that they are making fortune for themselves, remember that they are also making our planet a better place for us to live, so whenever you see an African man creating something worthwhile from waste or trash, do well to support, celebrate and thank him for making our planet a better place to live, because without these people we will end up having a ruined planet!



Author: Muhammed Akorede Olaiya

You can call me M.a-cool. I'm a writer and a video content creator from Nigeria. I write on different topics but mostly my writing revolves around fiction, motivation and inspiration articles. My passion for storytelling and love for Africa made me start my YouTube channel, where I tell amazing, inspiring and beautiful stories about Africa and Africans. You can check out some of my stories by visiting my YouTube channel.

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