FRANCIS LUNGU, Lusaka
“Do you see a man skilful in his work; he will stand before kings,” this is according to Proverbs 22:29, a scripture that came alive in the life of upcoming inventor Noah Mwanza, 21, when President Edgar Lungu visited him to see his astonishing invention.Noah, a Grade 12 school-leaver with good grades but without formal tertiary education, stood before President Lungu at the just-ended 92nd Agricultural and Commercial Show in Lusaka explaining his latest invention of a networking pumping system.
Brought up by his mother Lister Mwanza in Lusaka’s Kabanana township, Noah has grown up with a burning desire to become a scientist.
Unemployed and struggling for sponsorship to study computer science and programming, Noah was exhibiting at the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) stand in a bid to attract would-be sponsors.
Word of Noah’s ingenuity and genius mind in creating amazing technologies went round and caught President Lungu’s attention.
The head of State took a walk to the ZICTA stand to see for himself what Noah is capable of doing.
The network pumping system Noah has invented is used for turning on and off water pumps using a mobile phone. The technology works regardless of the distance of the phone from the water tank.
Noah told the President and his entourage that the network pumping system is configured with a subscriber identification module (SIM), widely known as a SIM card, linked to a mobile phone with on and off codes.
“You can just use your mobile phone to pump water into the tank and again when the tank is full; it can notify you via your mobile phone wherever you are. It is a system made of two codes, one for switching on and the other for switching off,” he said.
This water pumping system took Noah six months to bring it to perfection – from February to July 2018.
The invention was motivated by his neighbour’s situation in Kabanana who left his water pump on, and the water ran over for hours because there was no one home to turn it off.
“So, as a scientist I started thinking about how I could solve this problem. That is when I came up with this idea to make up the networking pumping system. This can save water resource and even people’s electricity units,” Noah said.
He says the system could also be used in vehicles as a security gadget.
“For instance, when your vehicle is stolen, you can just use your phone to shut down the engine activities. Again, you can start your vehicle, any kind of a vehicle, using your phone from wherever you are,” he said.
Noah’s networking pumping system is going for K1,200.
“When you buy the system, you need to buy a SIM card, then I will programme it for you,” he said.
He said the system is powered by electricity, but that it can also be programmed to work with 3.7 volts, the power capacity of most mobile phone batteries.
“I could not believe that my talent could make me stand and talk to the President. It was a great experience,” Noah said with excitement during the interview.
At home things are not as easy for Noah, his mother and sister Grace, and he has been doing piecework to help his mother, who works as a maid.
Apart from inventions, the 21-year-old is also good at making electronic devices at his mother’s backyard such as air conditioners. He has invented a technology he calls the Security Alert Road Abuser Vehicle Controller (SERAVEC), a multipurpose security machine.
Noah’s SERAVEC is trending on Youtube under the label “Zambian Genius”.
“It can turn a car engine on using a mobile phone. SERAVEC machine can also be used to open house doors and gates fitted with a corresponding technology configured through a phone from wherever one is,” Noah explained when he featured on the Zambian Genius television programme on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).
During the programme, Noah demonstrated how the SERAVEC machine works by instructing a friend, Joseph, who was in Chililabombwe, to use his mobile phone to open and close a door at his (Noah’s) home in Lusaka, and it worked to the amusement of viewers.
He has also made a gadget called Delivery Pot for switching on and off lights.
“It is helpful to the physically challenged people. They do not need to move to where the switches are in the house,” he says about the Delivery Pot.
Noah’s mother testified that he grew up as an innovative person who started contributing to the family’s income through piecework when he was in Grade Seven.
Noah says he can do a lot with his scientific mind but he is limited by lack of tertiary education. He desires to do computer science but lacks sponsorship.
Being a maid, his mother cannot afford to take her son to university.
“I am appealing to the Government to support him so that he can continue with his innovations.
“He has been inventing things since he was young,” Ms Mwanza says
Undoubtedly, President Lungu was impressed with Noah’s invention and appealed to ZICTA management to sponsor the young man to pursue his dream career in computer science.
According to ZICTA corporate communications manager, Ngabo Nankonde, the authority had taken note of the President’s appeal and has since requested Noah to apply for a place in the 2018 Young Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Innovators’ Programme.
Ms Nankonde said this will enable Noah to be trained with other innovators.
“This is the support that the authority will give to the young man. The authority is interested in having him develop his innovation into a commercial business, hence inviting him to exhibit at the ZICTA stand,” she said.
ZICTA came up with the Young ICT Innovators’ Programme in August 2016 after recognition of the hunger of young Zambians to use ICTs as an enabler of various processes.
This year’s programme, according to Ms Nankonde, will, among other things, provide technical and business development support services to up to 60 ICT-related innovators aged between 18 – 35 years.
She said the programme was in line with ZICTA’s mandate to support research and development.
Last month, ZICTA signed a memorandum of understanding with Barclays Bank Zambia Plc for financial support to run the 2018 ICT Innovation Programme whose number of beneficiaries has tripled following this partnership.
“The 2018 ICT Innovation Programme will also provide financial support towards the actualisation of the innovations for up to five innovations that will be identified on the programme,” she said.
She said ZICTA will provide K100,000 worth of investment for up to five innovations that will be shortlisted on the programme.
The successful applicants will also receive support in form of access to physical working space complemented with internet connectivity, computers, test devices and other office equipment.
“They will also get assistance with business linkages with possible off-takers of the innovations or potential financiers; as well as any other support that could assist with the development of the innovation into a viable business venture Ms Nankonde said.
Perhaps this package could allow for a huge breakthrough for Noah and many other young inventors.
FRANCIS LUNGU, Lusaka