Malawi faces a lot of energy problems. More than 80 percent of the population does not have direct access to electricity. This is a huge burden on both the economy and lives of people. One Paul Chris Mwale of Imajinet has not just looked at this problem and walked away. He has decided to see an opportunity in such a national challenge and brought in an innovative solution. Paul is such a visionary as he expresses himself in an interview he had with Consolata of DYV.
- How do you describe yourself?
My name is Paul Chris Mwale, 24 years old and very much Malawian. I live in Area 25, Lilongwe. I have a Degree in Renewable Energy Technologies from Mzuzu University.
I am an avid reader of classics, motivation books, history and whatever is good. I am passionate about the power of inventions. Inventions change lives for people and I believe faith is a powerful force that has moved civilizations, history is proof. I believe business and not governments develop nations. Google, Apple, Tesla and all big tech companies in America account for nearly 8 trillion dollars in GDP, nearly 40% of the US economy. Samsung is 17% of South Korea’s GDP. Therefore, I believe Africa can move forward only by high tech innovations that change lives and give rise to great business. I love music, it makes life bearable, and I believe God rules in the affairs of humanity.
- What is IMAJINET all about?
We started Imajinet when I realised that I have passion for making stuff, imagining things and when I realised a lot of friends and youths in general have always wanted a cause larger than themselves. Imajinet was condensed from “Imagine it”. The goal is to create innovative solutions to solve problems in Malawi using locally built technology. Imajinet is there to solve challenges facing people using technology. Our focus right now is to help our country achieve SDG-7 and give affordable clean energy to every home and business.
- When did you start this initiative?
We started Imajinet in 2019. My 4 other friends and I decided to focus on clean energy.
- What has been your major achievements?
Our first great achievement is clarity of the vision we have. Everything great thing starts with imagination, really seeing where you want to be, and we have a great team which will do great things. We have built working prototypes of small wind turbines that can be used to power houses, do irrigation farming and some are so small for just charging cell phones. We utilise 3D printing, computer programming, welding and electronics to make our small wind turbines and electric briquette machines.
We have won 2 grants since we began. In 2020, we won a grant of $1,200 from Global Change Makers to power a primary school. This year we won a grant of $1,200 from Mhub on 4 March as seed capital.
- How do you earn income from the same? Share more details.
We have not started sales yet, therefore we do no currently generate income but we will begin sales and customer service in the next 4 months since we already have working prototypes. We are currently working on a process to enable us to do mass production of our products which of course will enable us to lower production costs and give our customers affordable costs.
- What are your goals in the next 3 years for IMAJINET? What about in 10 years? (short and long term goals.
In the next 3 years we want to be responsible for powering at least 20 rural hospitals, at least 200 households and at least 50 farms using our small wind turbines and mini-hydro power plants. We wish to sell at least 500 electric briquette machines and at least 5,000 briquette sales per month.
In the next ten years we want to become the Tesla of Africa, the centre of innovation and the pride of Africa. We will create solutions in many industries and make life easy and comfortable for Malawians and Africa. We will create great technology and export to the world.
- What was your motivation towards starting the initiative, Imajinet?
What motivates me and keeps me on track is the fact that all great things start easy. I have delved deep and know how the greats of this world started and it was always humble. Samsung started out as a small sales shop, Google nearly sold out its business in early 2000s because it was struggling.
- What keeps you on track.
Well, that’s deep. But what keeps me on track is the knowledge that time and patience are the world’s greatest soldiers – anything can be accomplished with discipline. There have been times when I questioned my mission. My position has sometimes been so desperate as that of Job of old, but like that story teaches, we are tested because we are stronger. In such times I take pleasure in the fact that there is nothing else I would rather do. I enjoy this and therefore can endure all, overcome all and if it was easy, everyone could do it.
- What challenges do you face? How do you work on overcoming them?
Challenges are plenty but what we need right now to move forward is funding. We need to buy equipment to enable us to do mass production. We have the passion, the ability and the resolve. We need more passionate young men and women to join us to this great journey. When Wilbur and Orville right made the first plane, they did not have a college degree, not much money, not a name, but they did it anyway and made America great. Passion taken seriously is like rocket speed on steroids.
- If you are to form meaningful partnerships with other young people in related endeavours what would they be? (state fields you would be willing to partner with)
For us partnerships would be in the following areas:
- NGOs focusing on social impact.
- Technology start-ups focusing on 3D printing, IT and Manufacturing.
- What else do you do aside from running the initiative?
I focus on agriculture, farming and creating technology for agriculture like chicken incubators. I also want to go into videography and photography and bring creativity and order to boast this great industry.
- What would you say are the 3 most important things you do that keep you going? (Name any, e.g. Hobbies, how you unwind and recharge)
- Good music is therapy.
- Documentaries and TV series.
- Reading great books.
- If DYV is to host a panel discussion on any topic you are passionate about which affects African Youth, what would it be?
Artificial intelligence and creative innovations is a topic am ready to discuss anytime especially if it for social impact.
- Any motivational words that keep you going and can be of use to other young people?
“That others can achieve great things, is proof enough that you can do it too” Abraham Lincoln.
Interviewed by: Consolata Mthetwa
Edited by: Jonas Zaithwa Chisi