Elliot Mwebaze, a Ugandan telecom engineering graduate, has invented a device that enables phones to charge using a bicycle dynamo.
A dynamo is a device that enables bicycles to produce light. Mwebaze’s innovation converts the rotating energy from the bike into electrical energy, which can charge the mobile phones within 120 minutes.
This invention was borne out of the desire to make charging of phones much easier by reducing people’s dependence on electricity.
When Mwebaze is not working for Galooli Uganda, he looks for opportunities to improve his innovation and make it accessible for all bicycle riders. This technology is ideal for the rural population of Uganda, who often use bicycles as a mode of transport. Rather than traveling miles to charge a phone in the nearest town centre, their phones can charge on their journey to other meaningful work.
Mwebaze was initially inspired to create an alternative energy source for charging mobile phones when he missed a final exam because his phone blacked out as a result of lack of power in a Rukungiri, a remote village. The only way he could get back online was to move to the next town to recharge. He then devoted most of his free time and energy on finding alternative ways through which phones could stay charged, even in places without power supply.
Mwebaze was chosen by the UCC as a delegate to represent Uganda in the East African ICT exhibition organized by the East African Communications Organisation, where his innovation received more visibility with the East African community.
He has encountered difficulties in the development of his product, including the challenge of finding equipment to build the idea. However, with his background in engineering and with patience, he has managed to turn his idea into a tangible product that could help keep people with charged up mobile devices.
With this experience, he learnt not to fear failure. “You have to fail before you can succeed,” he says.
He is a frontier for the incorporation of technical skills acquisition into the acadamic syllabus.
In a discussion on the increasing levels of unemployment and under employment In Uganda, he puts the blame largely on the theory-heavy education system, which does not focus on technical skills and leads to the inability to develop ideas. The lack of a large manufacturing industry too could be an opportunity to create thousands of jobs and boost the local economy. With reports of Uganda having the largest number start-ups and failed businesses he points to lack of basic skills such as book keeping, integrity, customer service.