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Category: Change Maker Stories

Simon Petrus

A Namibian schoolboy in the country’s Ohagwena Region has come up with a sim-less mobile phone that does not require airtime to make calls.

The Grade 12 learner, Simon Petrus, a pupil at Abraham Iyambo Senior Secondary School created the phone using spares from a phone and television set, New Era reports.

Complete with a light bulb, fan and charger socket, the handset functions off power supplied through a radiator and is able to make calls to anywhere through the use of radio frequencies.

The invention, which is made up of a radio system, is attached to a box and also allows the user to view one TV channel on it.

Petrus is reported to have won a gold medal at national level last year for his invention of a two-in-one machine that that works as both a seed drier and cooler.

His invention of two years has been highly sponsored by his unemployed parents, the schoolboy admitted and he hopes the invention would be successful and be able to be carried further.

The development marks the latest in a series of innovative projects by students within the southern African nation.

Joshua Nghaamwa, a self-taught inventor, is reported to have created a satellite using parts from radios, cellphones and other electronics, The Namibian reports.

The satellite, believed to strengthen internet connectivity, is small enough to fit in a laptop bag and has a USB port that allows it to be connected to a modem, router or cellphone, increasing internet speed and allows for a better online experience.

Nghaamwa says he wants to introduce the device throughout the African market, so as to boost ICT on the continent.

Credit: Rising Africa

Subomi Owo-Odusi

One young man is taking the Nigerian fuel crisis into his own hands, quite literally.

“It’s insane,” said Subomi Owo-Odusi, founder of FueledUp, describing the interest in his business, an app due to launch that will deliver fuel straight to its users in Lagos. “A lot of people are keen,” he said.
“This will take away a lot of the pain and pressure and stress of people waiting for hours,” said the 23-year-old Owo-Odusi, describing the situation in Nigeria, which is witnessing another round of fuel shortages and leaving many to wait in line for hours.

Nigeria is no stranger to a fuel crisis. Despite being Africa’s largest oil producer, it had massive fuel shortages a year ago which nearly paralyzed the country. Long lines became the norm, and crowds of people had to push their way through gas stations with jerry cans at hand.

In the past several days, the ongoing shortage of fuel has hit another crisis point and many locals have taken to social media to vent their frustration.

Fuel is used not just for cars and trucks in Nigeria, but also commonly used to power generators for homes and businesses across the country. Many Nigerians commonly have limited electricity daily.

Working in a fuel distribution company for the past two years, Owo-Odusi said the idea came to him from his experiences of life in Lagos. “I understand the stress that people here have,” said the enthusiastic Lagos native.

How it works?

After downloading the app, users will be able to touch a “Get FueledUp” button, which shows the price per liter. Then, the user enters how much fuel they need, vehicle information and choose a delivery time frame.

There are three tiers: priority which delivers in 30 minutes to an hour, expectant which promises delivery in 30 minutes to two hours, and flexible which has a three hour guarantee. Delivering on time, in traffic-laden Lagos, is the major priority, said Owo-Odusi.

Receipts will be sent and messages will alert users once their fuel is delivered.
The fee for such a service will be the cost of the fuel plus a small fee for the delivery. The fees are still being determined, but Owo-Odusi said a high volume business will help keep the costs low for customers.

Big ambitions

Owo-Odusi says his background and contacts at depots in Lagos will ensure his company gets the fuel they need.

Undeterred, he said his network on social media, is also helping get the word out about his upcoming launch.
Though the app has yet to launch, Owo-Odusi is ready to expand. “The vision is past Lagos.”



Asidu Abudu

Self taught engineer and inventor, Asidu Abudu, has made at least 26 different inventions since he discovered his passion of invent things in sixth grade (Primary six).

Over the years, Asidu has invented numerous devices that are designed to ease people’s lives.

One of his inventions is a fufu pounding machine which could ease the lives of African women.

His other invention includes an automatic eating machine that can help the disabled, a surveillance camera that can track vehicles via mobile phone and a device that enable users to lock one’s car engine using one’s mobile phone or somebody else’s phone.

This short video will leave you richly inspired.

Source: Ventures Africa and Small Starter Africa.

Lerato Mahoyi

Lerato Mahoyi is an incredible South African known as an inspirational go-getter… She is a rape survivor but does not let this define her. She took her ordeal & focused all her energy on improving the lives of others in the same or worse situations.

She became a trainer for an initiative called “Activate”, started working with LoveLife & became an ambassador for an iniiaitve that fights for the right of women & children in Africa called “Hands Up For Her”.

“I once listened to women’s rights activist, Emma Mashanini, speaking, & one of the most profound things she said was, ‘We are human before we are women.’ I think we often get stuck on women empowerment & what being a leader entails, but it’s important to understand our roles very clearly in order to lead both inside & outside our homes.”

Lerato’s drive to help people less fortunate than she is, sees her involvement in a wide range of activities, from mentoring young women in her community to managing soccer teams of more than 120 young boys to help set them in a positive direction in life.

“I think one way that I am fighting back is by allowing myself to be both vocal & criticized. I decided that I will not be quiet. Once you make this choice, it is the most powerful thing you can do for someone else.”

Over the years she has focused on facilitation, content development & event co-ordination, training young people in innovation, leadership & socio-political navigation.

“I believe that the work I do chose me, I woke up into it – I’m passionate about giving, particularly to young people in South Africa. I am where I am because somebody who was once in my position gave their time, effort & energy to help me. It’s now my time to help others to become the best they can be.”

Mahoyi’s motto in life is no matter how dirty & dark our past is, our future is spotless.

“This motto has helped me get through many of the challenges I have faced in my life – it keeps me strong and determined to continue helping others.”

Source: Good Things Guy – The Home of Everything Good

Arthur Zang

Arthur Zang, a 24 year-old Cameroonian engineer, invented the Cardiopad, a touch screen medical tablet that enables heart examinations such as the electrocardiogram (ECG) to be performed at remote, rural locations while the results of the test are transferred wirelessly to specialists who can interpret them. The device spares African patients living in remote areas the trouble of having to travel to urban centers to seek medical examinations.

According to Zang, the Cardiopad is “the first fully touch screen medical tablet made in Cameroon and in Africa.” He believes it is an invention that could save numerous human lives, and says the reliability of the pad device is as high as 97.5%. Zang says he invented the device in order to facilitate the treatment of patients with heart disease across Cameroon and the rest of Africa. So far, several medical tests have been carried out with the Cardiopad which have been validated by the Cameroonian scientific community.

According to Radio Netherlands, which broke the story of the Cardiopad earlier,

“the tablet is used as a classical electrocardiograph device: electrodes are placed on the patient and connected to a module that, in turn, connects to the tablet. When a medical examination is performed on a patient in a remote village, for example, the results are transmitted from the nurse’s tablet to that of the doctor who then interprets them.”

According to Zang, “software built into the device allows the doctor to give computer assisted diagnosis.”

Zang believes his invention will cut down the cost of heart examinations. The Cardiopad is already generating a lot of interest in African tech and medical circles. The inventor is currently looking for venture capital to commercially produce the device.

Source: www.forbes.com

Chris Nsamba

You could say Chris Nsamba has always been something of an overachiever. By the age of 16 he’d already won three science competitions for adults. Now in his late 20s, the Ugandan is still dreaming big: He hopes to build and launch the first African manned shuttle into space.

“It isn’t about money, it isn’t about competition or pride,” said Nsamba, founder of the African Space Research Program. “The mission is about advancement in space technology as a continent and what we can contribute towards that growth.” While the group’s plans are ambitious, they are starting at the beginning of the aerospace ladder.

To test their engineering skills, Nsamba and his team are finishing off the first Ugandan designed and built aircraft.

But for Nsamba the sky is not the limit. “We are trying to have Africa participate in the contribution of knowledge into mankind’s destiny,” he said.

He says the program’s slogan, “Slowly We Get Smart and Quickly We get Old,” sums up why his efforts are so important.

“United as one, the knowledge we acquire today will help generations of tomorrow, and perhaps save our future generations from some kind of catastrophe,” he continued.

Nsamba has a team of over 600 volunteers, many of whom are engineering students, who work on the project in his backyard.

Uganda doesn’t have a history of space exploration and Nsamba is teaching the aspiring astronauts himself.

“This is not a one-man mission. We work jointly to achieve goals,” Nsamba said. “I have trained my crew (in) advanced astronomy. They are very good at astronomy in regards to calculations and identifications of various space objects.”

As well as his astronomy lessons, he’s educating them about the dangers of space, such as re-entry and the harms of radiation.

But while the team may be knowledgeable, they lack the tools and machinery to properly get the project off the ground.

It’s all down to money, but this could be about to change.

The Ugandan Government’s Science and Technology department has told CNN that the state is going to start providing financial support to the program.

“You can call it a public-private partnership but mainly driven by the young people whose passion is in space science. I applaud their ambition,” said Richard Tushemereirwe, a spokesman from the department.

“It provides an opportunity for Africans in general and Ugandans in particular to participate in space science and research instead of being spectators,” he continued.

A team of flight engineers from the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority has also been assigned to review and advise the team.

Tushemereirwe wouldn’t disclose how much funding the group will receive. But until now the project has been funded by well-wishers from around the world.

Nsamba says equipment has been donated to them and anything else the team needs they make it themselves.

“Recently we manufactured and launched a prototype thruster, a small shuttle engine in a prototype format,” Nsamba said.

One of the donors to the program is Lauren Stewart, a financial analyst from Texas.

Stewart discovered the group online and immediately wanted to be involved.

“When you listen to the news you never hear good news from Africa, it’s always sadness, so this is a light,” she said. “They are trying to do something on a positive side rather a negative side compared to what I’m used to hearing.”

Stewart is now trying to raise the group’s profile in the States. “I want people to trust them and get involved so they can be part of history,” she said.

Despite the challenges the team faces, Nsamaba remains confident they’ll have a space shuttle built in four to six years. He’s already named it “The Dynacraft.”

“It will first operate in Earth’s lower orbit then advance with time,” he said.

“We might not have money in our system but we do get our homework done!”

Source: cnn.com

Thulani Madondo

Kliptown is a community of plus or minus 45 000 people without a lot of basic things like electricity. In Kliptown poverty  ravages the land, but one person is trying to change the future of this town. Thulani Madondo grew up in Kliptown, sharing a metal shack with his mother and seven other siblings. Madondo started the Kliptown Youth Program, (KYP) this program is giving children a proper education and a warm meal every day.When most people think of Thulani Madondo they don’t exactly think of a global icon. Madondo deserves the title hero as much as any celebrity,  for his intelligent, persevering, and caring heart and mind.

Thulani Madondo contains the embodiment of the characteristic of intelligence after he got his diploma at the University of the Witwatersrand. Madondo showed his intelligence when he started the Kliptown Youth Program with limited funds and a giant dream. The only way for Thulani to start to make his program a success is to have an education; “Armed with a Community Development Diploma from the University of the Witwatersrand and seven years of training and experience in various youth development programmes, he decided to help to build his community by opening KYP in 2007.”( Mackay 1).After not having enough money to get a proper education as a child he came back as a young adult so he could help the youth of Kliptown in their struggle to get an education. There are problems in the future of Kliptown but at least now Madondo knows the answers to the problems; “We didn’t want to see other young people going through what we’d gone through: no uniforms … feeling hungry in class,” Madondo said. “We know the problems of this community, but we also know the solutions”(Toner 1). This town is a dark place that now one can escape from once you have been born into it, but Madondo is changing this town for the better so the children can have the chance to escape from the black hole of Kliptown. Madondo is more devoted to these children more than any other resident in the town of Kliptown.

Madondo also is very persevering in his struggles of his childhood in Kliptown. Growing up Madondo didn’t have a lot, but the one thing that he wanted the most was an education to get out of Kliptown.”Growing up  in Kliptown, in a one-room shack that he shared with seven other siblings, he knows the challenges of young people in this area”(Hartigh 1). All of Madondo’s siblings never got to go to high school. He was the only one able to afford to because he took a job washing cars during school. All of Madondo siblings gave up and got a full time job, but Madondo persevered for years until he got his degree for college and now he helps other children get their degree. All the time Madondo has to support 400 children with food, drinks, and a tutor for their education. “Thulani has been contributing towards providing educational support and extramural activities to eradicate poverty and to combat the disadvantages encountered by the youth of Kliptown.” Every day is a constant battle to get the youth of the program the essentials for their needs. Madondo is persevering and keeps every childs head and mind full so they keep off the streets. Madondo’s perseverance truly shows how he is a hero to this town and it’s children. He is a true leader and has true passion for helping others.

Another quality that Madondo contains is that he is caring for the town and for the children of kliptown. Through out Thulani’s life he has cared for seven siblings and his mother, but now he is caring for 400 children in the kliptown Youth Program physically and mentally. “Thulani Madondo, 30, has dedicated his life to improving the fate of the Kliptown youth, Soweto township, South Africa, November 2012. (S. Honorine/VOA).” Every day is a constant rush for Madondo because he is feeding, tutoring, and supporting all the children with 15 other volunteers. Madondo is also young to be running and working a full-fledged program for uneducated youth in kliptown.Madondo and all of the other volunteers care how to get them a scholarship to get into college “It’s such a great thing to give back,” said Munyai, who makes time to tutor at least twice a week. “We can actually help the new generation to succeed. A little can go a long way” (Toner 1). No one would be looking out for these children and for their health if it wasn’t for Madondo and the KYP. These youth would be on the streets and starve or get into crime to steal and get the food for themselves. Madondo cares for these children and cares so that they don’t end up on the streets he provides them with meals every day so they won’t starve. Thulani Madondo and the volunteers of Kliptown Youth Program are the only ones who truly care what happens to these children and their future.

Source: www.myhero.com

Boniface Mwangi

Boniface Mwangi is an award-winning Kenyan photographer. For four years he held a staff photography position at The Standard, the second largest Kenyan newspaper, taking on various assignments of increasing responsibility in a number of countries. Boniface became the eye of Kenyans during the 2007 post-election violence and showed courage and compassion to capture thousands of images, some so gory that they could not be published. Following the political resolution to the election crisis, Boniface started to see himself as a visual artist, using photography as the vehicle for social change in Kenya.

His focus was the fight against the impunity of politicians in the face of over 1000 dead and half a million people displaced as a result of the violence they caused. “Boniface’s images are crucial for the healing of our nation; his ability to stay focused and inject a sense of artistry into his work is a testimony to the spirit of professional journalism,” wrote Jackson Biko after Boniface was voted Kenya Photojournalist of the Year in 2008 by readers of Adam, a prolific men’s magazine in the country.

Since then, Boniface has continued to work as a freelance photographer for Bloomberg, the AFP, Reuters, the Boston Globe, and other media outlets while building a movement for social change in Kenya through “Picha Mtaani” (Swahili for street exhibition). The photo exhibit aims to heal the scars of Kenyans and draw their attention to the dynamics of the violence to prevent a repeat during the upcoming elections of 2013. Boniface founded Pawa254 as a collaborative hub where journalists, artists and activists could meet to find innovative ways of achieving social change. The hub has already had many functions, but two campaigns stand out. “Heal the Nation” is a very successful initiative to show a half-hour documentary about post-election violence to as many Kenyans as possible and facilitate discussions around the film. The campaign is accompanied by a more shadowy graffiti campaign that has evoked strong reactions and fired up the youth of Kenya and the world, as images of the clever graffiti grace the pages of the world’s newspapers.

In 2009 United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote a letter commending Boniface for his work during the post-election violence. She stated, “Your photography is absolutely stunning and tells an important and powerful story for the world to hear.” Boniface’s work has appeared in virtually all the important newspapers in the world, from The New York Times to The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Boston Globe and the BBC Focus on Africa magazine, among other international publications. He has been recognized as a Magnum Photography Fellow, TED Global Fellow, Acumen Fund East Africa Fellow, and twice as the CNN Multichoice Africa Photojournalist of the Year, among other awards. Boniface lives in Nairobi with his wife and three children, all given tribal names from tribes other than his own.

Source: ted.com