Form 2 Drop Out, Ernest, Generates Electricity for His Community
Something extraordinary is happening at Chinguwo village, Traditional Authority Chiwele in Dowa district.
A Form 2 dropout is generating electricity using air and few locally made tools.
So far, Ernest Andrew, 19, has already connected seven houses with the electricity.
“The air fills the bottle where there are wires that produce electromagnetic field. That magnetic field generates electricity which is transmitted through the cables and the poles to the houses. This electricity, for now, is enough just for lighting,” he said.
Energy challenges that engulfed the area prompted Ernest to come up with the innovation to bring solutions to the people.
“When I was a little boy, I was more interested in electronics. I used to play with things like bulbs and some electric tools to see if I could find ways to generate power for lighting and other electronics. I did not go to any school for this.
“I noted numerous challenges in my area regarding access to electricity because we are located very far away from Dowa Trading Center. Many people here fail to venture into various businesses such as barbershops because they cannot access electricity.
“Even entertainment, we cannot watch television for example because of that. That is where my interest to do more in power generation started growing until reaching this far,” Ernest said.
Ernest dreams of connecting his whole village and school with the electricity.
“If I had enough resources, I could have connected the whole village but I am able to connect with what I have now. My vision is to see Malawi developing and see young people having things to do on their daily life. If they have electricity, they will open up businesses and employ others,” he said.
“I am also working on a generator to pump water at a distance of 200 meters. I am planning to extend the electricity to the school for easy access and study. I will do this,” Ernest added.
Ronnex Katela, an 18-year-old student of Nanthumbu Secondary School, says the electricity is helping him in his studies. He is in Form 3.
“I no longer spend money on batteries for lighting. We are able to study for as long as we want. In the past, we failed to study because of lack of money to buy torch batteries. We could even use money meant for food to buy the batteries to study in some instances.
“This affected us in school. It was not easy to buy two candles at K600. This electricity will improve my education because I will have enough time to study. My future is bright,” he said.
Ernest’s mother, Evelyn Chinguwo, is among the beneficiaries. She is happy to see her son providing solutions to the challenges that his community faces.
“We are benefitting a lot from the electricity. Previously, we lived in the dark. It was hard to find money to but torch batteries for lighting. Children who could not afford to study are now studying without challenges.
“The money that we used to buy candles and batteries is now being used for other important things. I am very happy for this electricity. I see bright future for Ernest. I am appealing to well-wishers to support my son to further his education so that he can achieve more with his innovation,” she said.
Environmental activist, Mathews Malata, says this is the kind of innovations that need to be promoted in the country to achieve access to clean energy.
“Hope we can have all the energy experts around the table to discuss this issue but also to fully examine the technology; the merits and demerits so that it does not cause any harm to himself and the communities because these are sensitive projects which ought to be handled carefully when being implemented.
“I am also aware that the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) has started a programme where it is opening up for such innovators to see how to improve that. Under the National Climate Change Resilience Programme, there are funds to support such kind of innovations,” Malata said.
According to World Bank report of 2023 on the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 progress report 17.7 million in the country do not have access to electricity.
This poses a threat to Malawi’s chase of the SDG on universal access to electricity.
The country eyes to increase access to electricity to 50 percent by 2030 as enshrined in the Malawi 2063’s Malawi Implementation Plan (MIP-1).
On 19 January, 2021, Malawi embarked on a long journey. A journey that aims to transform Malawi into a wealthy and self-reliant industrialized 'upper middle-income country' by the year 2063.
(by Happy Njalam’mano and Agnes Tiza Gondwe)