Empowering Communities: Manyonga’s mission to illuminate Africa with ‘Chigubhu Lanterns’

Empowering Communities: Manyonga’s mission to illuminate Africa with ‘Chigubhu Lanterns’

Amidst frequent power outages in Africa, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, lasting up to 12-16 hours daily, Aluwaine Manyonga (AM) was inspired to create a solution after witnessing his niece grow up in darkness. He developed the Chigumbu lantern, a cost-effective lighting solution.

Through his company, Manyonga trains Zimbabwean school pupils to craft their own lights from recycled electronic and plastic waste, promoting energy conservation. In an exclusive interview with My Africa Magazine journalist Tapiwanashe Rubaya (TR), Manyonga sheds light on the Chigumbu Lantern and its life-saving impact in Zimbabwe.

TR: Aluwaine Manyonga can you introduce yourself to My Africa Magazine family?
Good day my name is Aluwaine Manyonga, I am a first Class Electrical Engineering graduate from the University of Zimbabwe with a passion for Sustainable Electrical Building Services Engineering.
I am a Zimbabwean, who is the brainchild of Chigubhu Lantern.

TR: Why did you established your brand Chigubhu Lantern?
After pursing my Advanced level I had two options, either computer engineering or engineering.
During my first year, I learnt about lightning software that is when the Chigumbu lantern idea began.
I wanted to create something that will impact the world with low cost, clean and free energy.

TR: Do you believe your background in Engineering played a major role when it comes to your project?
Yes the knowledge that I obtained in my engineering education played a major role in my project as i had to apply it during the establishment of the Chigumbu lantern project.

TR: What makes the  Chigumbu lantern unique?
The Chigumbu lantern is made up of plastic bottles, waste material from the Led lights and its powered by solar.
Chigumbu lantern light uses, up cycled plastic bottles and discarded  lights, while components making up the lights are fixed to circuits which would have been broken and plastic bottles to replace the glass housing.

The lights are battery powered and are charged by solar energy.
The Chigumbu lantern comes with a centralised solar charger that allows charging of multiple lanterns at once.

TR: In your project Chigubhu Lantern you work hand in hand with school Children,Why is it important to work with school Children in a such unique project?
Working with students its crucial as I believe in the power of education and students are the future.
Our concept is to try  and change their mindset for example when they see waste they should see something which is valuable.
An example we are giving them plastic bottles that they have used and they are turning them to being lights.
We believe that we need to turn a future which is more secular ,that is less waste, now students can see value out of the waste because of the Chigubhu Lantern.

TR: Who is your targeted  market or people with your project?
The public response has been positive, currently we have vendors who are using our product for lights and as well as students from across the country who are using the light for studies.
We have also embarked on a journey where we visit different schools across the country, were we educate the students  about the lanterns so that we can have a bright community.

TR: Where do you see Africa in years to come when it comes to solar energy
If Africa works hard in area of Solar Energy we will be the biggest in terms of the use of Solar Power. The reason being we are in a position that we are as the largest  part of the continent. Here in Zimbabwe we have at least 60% of rural population without electricity.And its difficult for us to expand our existing power stations such as Hwange because building infrastructures that will connect those rural areas is difficult. 
With solar it can be deployed  anywhere ,anytime without any challenges.
When you realize the need of the people in smaller communities, they don’t need much energy and without solar it can ‘carter’ for such things without any challenges.

TR: What advise would you give to African governments when it comes to solar energy and rural/urban developments, especially  when it comes to an issues that are similar to your niece who was born in an environment  without  lights?
A number of babies in 2018 were born in such environment, using candles hence I think solar is the way to go when it comes to such situations such as lightning and water heating and pooper government should reply on this kind of technology.
For one thing that I have realised about lightning, is one of the least  things that we can give to people and use at night and appreciate. With solar energy going hand in hand with LED light combined we are going to have an energy solving solution.

TR: How many lights have you disturbed  so far?
For the whole of last year we managed to distribute 500 lights this year we are targeting  to distribute about 6000 lights and we ha be started the year on a high note.
This February we have distributed at least 300 lights under the funding that we received from Australian Aid.

Tapiwa Rubaya

Tapiwa Rubaya is the current affairs, fashion and sports reporter at My Afrika Magazine.

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