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Kenya’s Young Inventors Shake Up Old Technology 0

They are both third-year mechanical engineering students at Sang’alo Technical Institute in Bungoma County, Western Kenya.

They are both young, aged 23 and 24, respectively.

But more than that, they’re both dreamers who have effectively translated their visions into a nature-friendly entrepreneurial mission. This is evident in the duo’s invention: a quiet, affordable solar-powered lawn mower that is attracting plenty of attention.

According to Masibo, the students had been watching maintenance workers clear grass around the school using combustion engine-powered lawn mowers that emit noxious fumes and produce deafening noise. It was irritating and interrupted learning, in addition to the fuel costs that had to be shouldered by the school all year round.

They decided something needed to be done and put their heads together, designing and building a prototype that is now in use at the school. At a cost of 180 dollars, it is a quarter the price of the traditional mowers. It has rechargeable batteries so it can conserve energy and enable mowing at night when there is no sunshine. It also carries a water bottle as an extra amenity.

To facilitate mowing at night, the solar mower has a bulb that provides lighting. Mowing at night or in low sunshine spares workers the harsh tropical daytime blaze typical of many parts of Kenya.

“From the gender perspective, the traditional mowers – either by design or inadvertently – appear meant for use by men. They are difficult to switch on. The noise and the smell of oil during combustion is intolerable to women. But solar-powered mowers are friendly to women. They are easier to start, one just has to use a switch placed near the handle to ignite the mower,” says Masibo.

According to Bwire, it was easy for them to build the machine after designing it because the materials required are locally obtainable. The institute sponsored them and the only material they bought was the solar panels, a detector used to indicate when it is off or on, and batteries.

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by Justus Wanzala

Photo Credits: Getty Images

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