By Amos Banda:
After William Kamkwamba, well known for building a windmill to power multiple electrical appliances, a young innovator who has developed several electronic systems without any formal training has emerged at Wimbe in Kasungu.
For Kamkwamba’s innovation, he used trees, bicycle spare parts and other used materials he collected around his village.
Similarly, the young man Madalitso Phiri has developed electronic systems from materials collected locally in his area.
One of the electronic innovations he has come up with is a wave switch which can be used to control a number of electrical machines.
Phiri, 24, from Mphepo Village Traditional Authority Wimbe, says he became creative at a tender age.
“I started building electronic circuits for different systems when I was in Standard Six. It all started when I found a small radio receiver near the river in our village.
“I was very much interested to know how it worked. This sparked the potential to develop different electronic systems in me though I did not know some of these systems,” he says.
The most interesting thing about his innovation is the use of mobile phone to control a machine by either switching it off or on, hence the wave switch.
“With time, I have managed to develop a number of electronic systems, one of which happens to be this wave switch,” Phiri says.
The system comprises two cellphone boards, motors, transistors and resistors. It is remotely controlled on a phone with two simcard slots.
“It is switched on when I dial a number for a simcard in the first slot and switched off when I dial a number in the second slot.
“In the process, any electrical appliance connected to it can be switched off remotely,” he says.
Showcasing his innovation, Phiri managed to switch on and off a light bulb using a mobile phone.
Apart from his masterwork, the young innovator is capable of developing systems such as signal emergency systems, automatic changeover switches for generators and solar systems.
Phiri says ideas just come to his mind and he finds pieces of electronic equipment to assemble a desired system; sometimes through a trial-and-error method.
However, he has not run away from the fact that knowledge is gained from books too.
“These are purely my ideas and from the knowledge I get after reading some science books.
“I believe that, with this ability, I can help advance technology in the country given opportunity and exposure,” Phiri says.
He cherishes to have passed through the corridors of a secondary school which he says helped him understand electronics and names and functions of electronic devices.
“This is unlike in the past when I could just use devices unknowingly,” says Phiri, adding that he now wishes to go to college.
He says he possesses a Malawi School Certificate of Education only.
“I have never been to any university or technical college because of lack of financial support.
“I would love to go for any formal training so that I can advance my technological ideas and help in developing Malawi,” Phiri says.
His father Brickson Keffas Phiri is proud of his son’s innovations and encourages him to work hard.
“I have always given him a little support to implement his technological ideas.
“We noticed his innovative mind way back when he was seven years old. He used to break electronic gadgets and use the components to make his own gadgets,” the father says.
However, the father says he cannot afford to support his son’s tertiary education.
“I lack financial muscle to send him to college. I have, however, managed to buy him tools that he uses to repair generators and refrigerators,” he says.
As young Phiri keeps on finding solutions to society’s technological problems, one can only hope that a Good Samaritan will pass by his home, notice his potential and offer support in form of a scholarship. – Mana
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