WINDHOEK, Feb. 20 – It took the threat of darkness in a copper mine to ignite a fuse that may very well light up Namibia, at the least. But the consequence of this fuse may very well be the trigger of a continental revolution.
While working at a copper mine in Namibia, 30 year old electrical engineer Pedro Da Fonseca was tasked with finding a solution to a lighting problem that his employer faced.
Through extensive research on LED (light emitting diode) lights, accompanied by numerous trials and errors, Pedro’s tests lead him to a ‘great and simple’ innovation.
In fact, so simple was his invention, it was rendered useless by people who thought it was a far cry from reality; those who did not share his vision, drive, ability or motive.
However, though his idea was cast into darkness, Fonseca believed his solution could be the light his employer sought, and more importantly, the glimmer of hope that he had to hold on to.
Neglected, but hungry to prove his conception was not a pipe-dream, Pedro’s self-determination made him drown into his work, while funding it out of his own pocket.
Perhaps it was a stroke of luck that his idea was neglected, as this made him even hungrier to prove himself.
And his determination would pay off after carrying out all the required tests, then he decided to take the first step in patenting his invention, oblivious to the destiny that his hard-work had shaped.
“I called to find out the necessary details and which route to follow in order to register my invention with Business Intellectual Property Authority (BIPA.) My life changed in June 2017. I received a call from an official, a man with insight and knowledge; a visionary who saw my potential, when everyone else was blind to it,” said Fonseca at a workshop in Windhoek on Tuesday 20 February.
He explained that he did not have the slightest clue on how to market or let the world know of his invention, but that Namibia is equipped with a team of professionals who are able to recognise a diamond in the rough and polish it to shine.
Fonseca was subsequently chosen to represent Namibia as an inventor, introduced to an organisation named: African Investors Cooperation Organisation (AICO,) and the rest, as they say, ‘is history!’
“Together with BIPA, AICO helped me to get to the Seoul International Inventors Fair (SIIF) in South Korea, where I was the first and only African participant among 217 other inventors; a platform so surreal, I never dreamed of reaching it. It was a life changing experience.
He continued: “There I learned that the world depends on us young people, in order for us to bring change and innovation, to open a new era of improvement and light to bring us out of the darkness. Europe, Asia, America and the rest of the world have support systems in place to help assist their young and talented. And as I have found out, so do we; we no longer have to wait upon Europe, Asia, or US to bring change to our country or continent because we are more than capable to uplift our own continent if we trust and believe in ourselves.”
His invention was placed under rigorous testing for 72 hours straight, as they wanted to verify the proposed research. “I was just happy just to be there, among all these other amazing inventions and world wide potential, I didn’t expect much.”
But in a surprising turn of events, Fonseca outclassed the globe’s most prestigious upcoming inventors in his category, as he bagged two awards on the last day of the Inventors Fair.
“It was the first time an African was at the SIIF in the 12 years it has been running, and naturally it was the first time an African had won awards on that level. I won an award for Best Electrical Project, and another for Excellence. And all I had to do to get there, was patent my invention with BIPA!”
Two months later, and Fonseca was giving his testament at Namibia’s first ever Workshop on the Establishment of Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISCs) organised by the World Intellectual Property Organisastion in cooperation with the Government of Namibia and assisted by BIPA.
“The merits of my hard work have sparked the interests of investors and enthusiasts. I have had the honour of presenting my invention to branches of government and I am currently in talks with interested parties such as local government, municipalities as well as electrical providers that operate within our beautiful country,” he added.
But what exactly separates his product from the current lights around?
“NamLux is an LED streetlight that is not only brighter, but is more efficient, longer lasting and reduces the usage of energy consumption as it requires bare or minimal power for operation. This results in huge cost saving. It is designed to fit into the current streetlights that we have, making it easy to refit and without hassle to replace the entire light, further saving on installation costs,” he explained.
Fonseca also explained that while regular street lights consume 2 watts of power, his is limited to 0.21 watts, representing 10 times less power usage than the current lighting in Windhoek. Now if other African countries use streetlights that share the same power outage, who is to say that they will not wish to reduce their costs as well?- Musa Zimunya