Young Talents

Verome-Mankou

Verona Mankou is a young Congolese designer, who at the age of 26 designed the first African touch pad in 2011. In 2012, he designed the first African smart phone. He is popularly known as Africa’s Steve Jobs. The phone, known as “Elikia Moke” (little hope) in Congolese language, is versatile, multimedia –oriented and has a physical keyboard, a 2.4 inch display with a wide, decorated with bright colors. It offers the possibility to connect. Its great messaging features, sharing and communication associated with social networking applications allows the user to easily connect to friends. It has an MP3 player, FM radio and microSD card slot for extended entertainment as well as a memory expandable to 8GB.

KEVIN DOE

Kelvin Doe (born 26 October 1996), also known as DJ Focus, is an African engineer. He is known for teaching himself engineering at the age of 13 and building his own radio station in Sierra Leone, where he plays music and broadcasts news under the name “DJ Focus”. He was one of the finalists in GMin’s Innovate Salone idea competition, in which Doe built a generator from scrap metals. Doe would constantly use discarded pieces of scrap to build transmitters, generators, and batteries, as well.

As a result of his accomplishment, he received an invitation to the US and subsequently became the youngest person to participate in the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” at MIT. His accomplishments were documented by @radical.media and presented on their corporate YouTube channel. Doe subsequently was a speaker at TEDxTeen. Doe lectured to undergraduate engineering students at Harvard College, as well. In May 2013, Doe signed a $100,000 solar project pact with Canadian High Speed Service Provider Sierra WiFi. 

14-Year Old Boy Who Built a Windmill in a Village with No Electricity

William Kamkwamba at TED, an international conference, in 2007

Eleven years ago, a boy built a windmill on his own in east Africa. His name is William Kamkwamba. When he was 14 years old, he realized his dream to generate electricity in his country where electric supply was available to only 2% of its population.

William was born in 1987 into a farm family in Malawi, east Africa. In 2001, when he was a junior high school student, famine hit his country, forcing its people to have difficulty in securing their daily food. This famine also forced William to drop out of junior high school, because he could not pay the tuition for his education.

Out of sheer desire to learn, he began to go to a local library to read books. At the library, he came across two books: “Explaining Physics,” and “Using Energy” whose cover shows a picture of an array of windmills. He read the books and knew that a windmill enables people to light lamps and pump up water for drinking and irrigation. He decided to build his own windmill.

William, in cooperation with his friends, collected discarded items here and there, such as scrapped bicycles and fans of tractors, to use them as parts of a windmill. They repeated experiments for the windmill, and finally built it in the backyard of William’s house.
The first windmill

William lived in a village where the people believe in magic. The rumor about the wind power generator went around the village, and on the day when he tried to generate electricity by the windmill, many villagers came to see, saying something like “That’s totally impossible” with a laugh. But against their predictions, the windmill revolved in the strong wind and lit a lamp brilliantly. William was extremely excited to see it, while villagers clapped their hands with praise for his achievement. Their doubtful eyes were replaced by their smiles with surprise and praise.

His achievement was introduced in newspapers, and he was invited to make a speech at an international conference of scientists and inventors in 2007. Meanwhile, he was able to go to junior high school again after five years of absence, and then went on to high school, and even to a college in the United States.

In this way, encountering books at a library changed his life. William, who headed for his goal with perseverance, is now in his 20s and says, “I want to develop new Africa wherein we make changes on our own.” He also says, “If you want to make something come true, first of all, give it a try.”

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition

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