Must’s centre invests in water light technology


By Omega Mitinda:

INNOVATION—The technology being tested

Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must)’s Centre for Innovation and Industrial Research (CIIR), in collaboration with an American innovator, William Mehess, has designed a water light device.

CIIR hopes the lamp, which functions using saline solution only, would contribute to Must’s strategic plan and rural development.


“The water light device is based on the principle of voltaic electrochemical cell where chemical oxidation-reduction reaction is used to generate electricity. The lamp is highly portable, does not depend on solar or wind energy. Additionally, it has no adverse effects on the external environment,” a brief from CIIR reads.

CIIR research team leader on the project, Richard Chilipa, said the device is an affordable source of light for low income households it costs K550 monthly and can last over 12 months without replacing any of its parts.

“Water light technology presents a cheap yet reliable and environmentally friendly solution to households, providing them with good quality light every day. This will bring required solutions in rural areas and will contribute towards Malawi’s health and education goals,” Chilipa said.


CIIR team is developing and modifying the original prototype to fit the Malawian setting and use locally available materials.

“The team is collecting and testing water samples from different areas such as Chikwawa. We are also working on the Cathode which is the engine of the technology. It is expected that the research will improve the brightness of the lamp and its usage time,” Chilipa said.

Unlike other green energy sources such as solar, the water light technology is energy-on-demand source which is flexible and easy to use.

Malawi has one of the lowest electrification access rates in sub-Saharan Africa.

Its 351 MW installed capacity, mostly from hydroelectric power plants on Shire River, provides electricity to less than 11 percent of Malawi’s population.

For the 80 percent of people living in rural areas, the situation is even worse as only 4 percent is connected to the grid, forcing many to resort to unsustainable energy sources.

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