IS MALAWI DOING GREAT IN PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT? YES: LEARN WHAT INNOVATORS ARE DOING TO COMBAT ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES

AfricaBrief contributor Chisomo Phiri tells the story of two young Malawian innovators who have developed devices that are expected to combat climate change challenges BIG TIME!

Innovation refers to the practical implementation of ideas that result in the introduction of new goods and services or improvement in offering goods and services.

The standard ISO 56000:2020 defines innovation as " a new or changed entity realizing or redistributing value''.

Others have different definitions but then a common element in all these definitions focus on newness, improvement, and spread of ideas or technologies.

Innovation often takes place through the development of more co-efficient products, processes, services, technologies, art, works, or business models that innovators make available to the market, governments, and society.

Innovation is related to but not the same as invention. Innovation is more apt to involve the practical implementation of an invention (   i.e new/improved ability) to make a meaningful impact in society, market, and not all innovations require a new invention.

In Malawi, there are many youths who are working hard in developing various technological devices that in turn bring impact to society.

These technological devices are used in various areas e.g environmental conservation, health, education, disaster management, just to mention some but a few.

Recently, AfricaBrief contributor Chisomo Phiri caught up with two young Malawian innovators who, through their practical ideas, have developed devices that are expected to combat climate change challenges through environmental conservation.

Here are the two young Malawian innovators Chisomo gathered their innovation details:

PAUL KAIPA

Paul Kaipa is a 24-year-old boy from Traditional Authority ( TA) Ganya in Ntcheu. He did his primary education at Khola and Bilira primary schools in the district and later on was selected to Ntcheu Secondary School.

From Ntcheu Secondary School, Kaipa got selected to the Malawi University of Business and Applied Science ( MUBAS), formerly the Polytechnic where he is finishing his Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science and Technology ( EST) majoring in physics.

In his innovation project, Kaipa has developed a fireless cooker which is also known as a heat retention box. The aim of his fireless cooker ( retention box) is to conserve energy during cooking so as to curb deforestation which is increasing at an alarming rate. The fireless is also said to save about 50% of energy to be used during cooking.

                                    HOW THE FIRELESS COOKER WORKS

Using the fireless cooker ( heat retention box), the food is brought to boil, simmered for a few minutes depending on the quantity of food/ size of food particles. The food is then put into a fireless cooker to continue cooking on its own just as it has absorbed heat.

The cooker is made from insulating materials that prevent most of the food from escaping into the environment. No additional energy is needed to complete the cooking process hence the device is called a fireless cooker.

“If people are using this fireless cooker, they can save energy and at the same, they can save costs for buying firewoods. By using this fireless cooker, women will be less exposed to smoke that causes asthma and other several diseases,” Kaipa.

The student said he came up with this innovative idea after made several consultations with his lecturer, trying to find how to conserve energy from different literature and science books looking at how deforestation is happening in the country.

" My future is that I should sell this cooker to people and organizations if the capital is available, and I will try to use other insulating materials that can be available in different parts of Malawi,” said Kaipa.

Zac Caleb Mwalebu

Another innovator in our innovation segment is Zac Caleb Mwale. Caleb is a University dropout student at the Malawi University of Business and Applied Science ( MUBAS) formerly the Polytechnic.

Although Zac Caleb didn't go far with his education, still he is making strange ideas that are bringing impact to society. He is a founder and Chief Executive Officer ( CEO) at Hy-Flex( HF) Tech Company.

Recently, Zac has innovated a hybrid inverter that converts energy from the sun, electricity, and car batteries for domestic use and energy saving. A hybrid inverter is an intelligent machine that automatically chooses which power is worth to be used at a time ( electricity, sun, or car battery).

According to  Caleb, the main purpose to bring this Hybrid inverter is to provide green energy and provide cheaper electricity in the rural areas where there is no ESCOM electricity so as to avoid deforestation for charcoal production to be used in the people's homes.

The Hybrid inverter also helps in providing electrical power to ESCOM therefore, acts as a source of income.

The Hybrid inverter is made using locally available materials as well as the ones that are imported from abroad.

Caleb said he is now glad that the government has started showing interest in supporting the young talented Malawians and is ready to take innovation to another level.

" I am very happy that the government is now looking supportive and I hope this will help us bring more innovative ideas that are very helpful to the social-economic of this country,” said Caleb.

                           HOW THE HYBRID INVERTER WORKS

The inverter gets the power from the sun through light cells and sometimes it gets the power from the ESCOM electricity as the main source of energy since it saves energy and acts as the energy saver.

The device receives both Alternative Current ( AC ) and Direct Current ( DC) because it is dual. Once it has received Direct Current ( DC), it automatically converts it to Alternative Current ( AC) and vice versa where it changes from a single phase to three phases and after that, it goes back to Alternative Current ( AC) so as to be able to amplify energy.

During the operation, the inverter saves a lot of energy as it is made up of capacitors and chitter electrons so as to avoid it get more ohms from the main source.

The innovator said his next plan is to expand his Hy-Flex Company so as to innovate many things. He said the time has come where Malawians have to use inverters, water pumps, and several things labeled "Made in Malawi".

Apart from innovating the inverter, Zac has also recently innovated a water-powered Genset in the showroom for sale in Lilongwe. The water-powered Genset is environmentally friendly.

He said, “This is a green energy innovation which seeks to contribute to the global fight against greenhouse effects and climate change and climate change as a whole.”

He said he intends to embark on mass production when the resources permit.

According to Caleb, the water-powered Genset is 100 percent efficient as the user can choose either to use Petro or Water to run it.

He said the Genset has been designed in the way that it should meet the people's needs when it comes to powering it.

Zac is not a new name in the world of technology and innovation in the country. He became a household name when he invented an automatic nsima cooker. He innovated automatic coffee tables, oxygen ventilators, and disinfectant machines, among others.

The Lilongwe-based innovator has also revealed that plans in the pipeline to manufacture an electric car.

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A guest post by
Chisomo Phiri is an experienced freelence journalist who writes for Malawi's major print and online publications. He is interested in environmental, science and innovation, and human rights reporting.