By Paul Ndiho
Humility is what describes 24-year old Mixon Faluweki, a student at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College — pursuing a degree in education science, majoring in physics.
He is part of a new breed of young African innovators trying to charge Africa’s image. I recently met with him on his own tough in Zomba Malawi.
I’m here at Chancellor College, Malawi University. Where, I have just met Mixon Faluweki, an incredibly talented young man, and the inventor of “Padoka charger.”
On campus he’s just regular student, in fact, very few students know about his innovation that is creating a buzz on the international scene. Mixon Faluweki was earlier this year crowned as the winner of the GIST 2014 Competition — or global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) finals in Marrakech Morocco.
“Padoka charger” is an innovation, which enables people living in rural areas of Malawi and the other neighboring countries to the use the bicycle, which use for transport, to also use it for charging their mobile phones, and powering other devices such as a radio and also a torch.
Faluweki is part of talented group of students that has been tasked to find home grown solutions to some of the problems Malawians are facing. He says thinking out of the box is what is drove him to be creative.
“i had to think of a project that I would come with and that project should solve problems faced by Malawians. In my mind, i just came up with the issue of a charger that could be used for charging mobile phones but that charger should not use electricity that many people in Malawi do not have access too. So that’s when i decided to come up with the “Padoka” charger.”
Among his peers, he’s well respected and he’s become an inspiration to many of them. He explained how his innovation works.
“When one is riding the bicycle, as the wheel rotates, it also rotates the wheel for the dynamo, the generator. And then the power generated by this generator, goes to the system/charger and then the charger converts that power into useable power for charging the mobile phone. So it is regulated, so that the power going into the charge is optimal for charging the mobile phone.”
In places like zomba, Malawi, where very few have access to electricity or solar power, inventing a low cost battery or phone charger, mounted on a bicycle that people can use to charge their phones has been a long time coming. Most people have access to a mobile phone, but they don’t have any electricity outlets to charge their phones.
Despite some challenges, the young entrepreneur is focused on perfecting his innovation.
The event’s organizer, the American association for the advancement of science says Mixon faluweki’s innovation was selected alongside other 65 innovations from a total of 502 worldwide.
However, Faluweki is yet to earn any money from his innovation, but he hopes to use this platform to network and look for potential investors.
Tech analysts in Africa say Mixon faluweki’s achievement, is great, but it will take him years to release the product on the market. But, they say his product has the potential to change the image of Malawi.
Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/ executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho