Malawian Invents a Power Source Made for Africa

Victor Kaonga points us to Dr. Cedrick Ngalande, a Malawian, who has built a prototype power source made specifically for Africa. It generates power using sugar and yeast for up to 8 hours at a time.

Mobile phones are big in Africa, however it’s a real challenge to power them. How about night time electrical lighting, rather than paraffin lamps. Of course, in Africa we can think of all types of applications that this device could be used for.

Electric power by sugar and yeast

This gadget will be very ideal to developing countries like Africa where electricity is scarce. As you know, the growth of cell phone is fastest in Africa. The problem most Africans have is that they cannot charge those cell phones due to lack of electricity. Some have to walk long distances just to charge cell phones. My invention will make it easy for these people to charge their cell phones. Also, this generator can be used to charge $100 computers which are being introduced in Africa. It can also be used to charge or operate medical devices in rural Africa.

On a side note, I love seeing inventions made by Africans for Africans. It’s only by living and being a part of the everyday life that you get past the surface issues and start to really understand the real problems to be overcome. Personally, I love this story; it’s ingenious and African – just what we like here on AfriGadget!

If you have any stories, pictures or videos of ingenious African solutions, send them to us!

(hat tip: Soyapi)

Author: Erik Hersman

Erik is the owner of White African, a blog about technology and Africa. He is the co-founder of Zangu, a new web and mobile phone application that he hopes will change communication in Africa. AfriGadget is another web project of his, not that he doesn't have enough of those already...

68 thoughts on “Malawian Invents a Power Source Made for Africa”

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  7. How’s this supposed to work?

    What will happen to the sugar and the yeast once it’s digested?

    If this machine works, will he be able to reproduce it and sell it?

    Yes it is an Afrigadget indeed, but we’ll also need to use it then. There are so many smart ideas around the world and only a few get appreciated and reproduced, let alone matters of Intellectual Property Rights aren’t solved yet.

    Maybe we should invent a category on Afrigadget of African solutions that really work and are already selling (?).

  8. err… ok. But HOW DOES IT WORK? I see some PVC fittings, two tanks and a pivot, but neither this post, nor Victor’s begins to explain what it actually does.

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  10. It appears that the generator is made simply by oscillation. Perhaps the yeast is deposited in one side, and slowly rises through the pipes to the other side, causing some oscillation. If the yeast continues to expand, maybe it travels in a circular fashion through the pipes, causing the pumps to rise and fall. –Matt

  11. great!Dr Cedrick’s invention looks great.

    i am looking at the principle behind this technology,forget the present look and size of the engineers can ‘shrink it’ and make it portable.

    next thing get a ‘patent’keep the principle a secret.


  12. This is a great puzzler! It has all the components – sugar as an energy source and yeast as a biological “cracking” agent to release the energy… So here is my guess: The yeast digests the sugary which releases carbon dioxide gas. That gas forces fluid from one side of the lever to the other. This change in weight causes the lever to move down on the heavier side. When the lever hits the bottom it activates a valve that then causes the fluid to be pumped to the other side thus restarting the process. Feed that motion into a crank to turn a generator… or something like that 🙂

  13. We really need to hear from Eric what the process is.

    Lots seems to focus on the CO2, but what about the alcohol? If the alcohol goes to waste its unlikely to make energy sense. After all in the biofuel sector the energy yield of ethanol is under question.

    What about the wind mill and biogas system of previous posts as the basis of more renewable energy for cellulars?

  14. Noah/Dave, new post is incoming about this. I’ve been speaking with the inventor and have some more information. It’ll probably go live tomorrow.

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  16. this is an amazing idea and when coupled with the $100 laptop should go some way to the electicity solution in Africa – let’s hope this technology continues to develop

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