Friday, November 21, 2014

Unicef Malawi plans to open an Innovation Hub in Blantyre

Plans are at an advanced stage to open Malawi's first ever Innovation hub courtesy of Unicef Malawi. According to Unicef's Technical Specialist, Micheal Kavuma, the hub will be at the University of Malawi's Polytechnic Chichiri Campus.

Kavuma said the hub will help in shaping innovators' ideas, funding them and providing mentorship. He was speaking on Sunday 16th November 2014 at the #TEDxYouth Blantyre Silmucast organized in the same room Unicef plans to house the Innovation Hub.

Malawi has no proper functioning innovation hub despite having many interesting innovators. The hub will provide a platform for future innovators like William Kamkwamba (the boy who harnessed the wind), Gabriel Kondesi (a boy who made his own radio station), Milwad Faluweki (an innovator who made a bicycle powered phone charger), Edmond Kachale (he made a Chichewa firefox add on translator).

Even though the hub will be based in Blantyre, it will also accept ideas from all over the country. It will also have an online platform to connect its membwrs from all over the country.

In neighboring countries, hubs have facilitated the growth of numerous startups and small scale enterpreneurs. Tech hubs like iHub in Kenya and BongoHive in Zambia have seen IT businesses growing and interest in Tech surging among youths. Malawi has other Tech meetups like Blantyre and Lilongwe Google Developer Groups (GDG), Young Innovators and the annual TEDxLilongwe where geeks and innovators meet to share ideas, conduct hackathons and barcamps.

Make it real with Zoona Money Transfer

They are an African solution to an age old African problem. One of the fastest and most brightest startup in this part of the continent has started its operations in Malawi. Zoona is a mobile money transfer born in neighbouring Zambia and spreading to other parts like wild fire.

If you have visited Peoplez shops in all the major cities of Malawi, you may have come across beautifully dressed youths operating a money transfer business under the banner of Zoona. It is Zoona's initiative to create employment and facilitate money transfer for emerging enterpreneurs in Africa.

In Malawi Zoona partnered with National Youth Council to recruit and train 80 youths to manage Zoona agent locations in Malawi. The agents are empowered to manage their own business while receiving financing, marketing, and training support from Zoona.

Zoona started its operations in Zambia in April 2009 and has so far spread to the whole of Zambia, Malawi and Capetown in South Africa. Zoona offers Emerging Entrepreneurs an opportunity to provide money transfer and other payment services to low-income consumers, while earning commissions and creating employment. They provide a mobile money platform, working capital financing, business management tools and entrepreneurial support focused on helping businesses grow and increasing financial inclusion in Africa.

Users of Zoona are able to send and receive money without a bank account, mobile phone or any gadget except an identification. A small percentage is charged to send money. Zoona is currently found in all Peoplez Shops and Supermarkets in major cities of Malawi.

Zoona means real in Zambian Chinyanja and Truth in Malawi's Chewa.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

TEDxLilongwe 2014 Simulcast in Blantyre

As the TEDx Lilongwe event will be held in Lilongwe, Blantyre people will be able to enjoy the same event in real time through a live stream which will be held as follows:

Date: Saturday 15 November, 8:00am to 4:00pm

TEDxLilongwe 2014 Simulcast @ Blantyre will be held at the Blantyre Polytechnic, Chichiri Campus… in the Unicef Innovation Hub (Opposite Civic Centre Offices)

Tickets are available from Ameca Cafe (inside Beit Trust Hospital premises) from Monday afternoon for MWK 4,000. This covers live streaming of all the action from the Lilongwe event plus refreshments and lunch. Capacity is limited to only 100 people.

The simulcast will live stream the TEDxLilongwe event, so you can catch all the action from all the speakers.

TEDx Lilongwe Speakers

TEDxLilongwe returns to Crossroads Hotel for a second year, presenting live talks, performances, and TEDTalk videos to spark deep discussion and connection.

Tickets are available from Koko Bean Cafe @ Lilongwe Wildlife Centre, Papaya Cafe @ Game complex and Lark. Tickets cost MWK 6000 (includes entry to the event plus refreshments and lunch).

In Blantyre tickets are available from Ameca Cafe (inside Beit Trust Hospital premises) from Monday afternoon for MWK 4,000. This covers live streaming of all the action from the Lilongwe event plus refreshments and lunch. Capacity is limited to only 100 people

Here is a list of speakers:

Menes La Plume
Topic: Breaking the mould for refugees

Well known as Menes, Trésor Mpauni Nzengu is a journalist, a writer, and a hip-hop and slam poetry artist, born in Lubumbashi in the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
He began writing poetry and music as a child, and launched his professional performance career in 1998 with his crew ‘ADKS,’ touring different cities of Katanga and participating in different festivals around the country.

In 2007, his solo career began recording new material and shooting music videos, which enjoyed regular and long-lived airtime on local and national radio and television.

Menes came to Malawi in 2008, having left DRC due to political disturbance. Menes has begun to perform again in 2013 now adding English and Chichewa to his Congolese French rapping and Slam Poetry.

A true innovator, Menes is also active off the stage, where he promotes the power of music, spoken word, and culture, through initiatives such as his Creative Writing classes and the Dzaleka Cultural Association, of which he is the founder and President, as well Tumaini Festival, for which is the Director

Hastings Tchinga

The Power of Stories

Hastings Tchinga is a storyteller. Since July 2013, he has been a prisoner at the Kachere Reformatory Centre where he is serving a 2-year sentence.
He discovered his love of storytelling during an after school writing program and uses the stories to cope with harsh living conditions and inspire his dreams of one day becoming a journalist.

Lily Banda
Topic: Let’s talk about violence against women

Born in Malawi on 16 August 1990, Lily Banda made an impact under the stage name Alex as a singer and poet. Since the release of her debut album in January 2014 the artist has headlined many events where she has dazzled audiences with her charisma and energy as well as the boldness of her poetry.
Lily lives her life in a way that she hopes others can be inspired to be sure of what they hope for and certain of what they cannot see.

Lily lives in Lilongwe.

George Kalukusha
Topic: Good Blood (performance)

George Kalukusha is an earnest singer/songwriter dwelling in the genre of soul/folk. The 21 year old was born in Blantyre; where he spent the first 11 years of his life. He then moved to England where he spent the next half of his life and consequently made an encounter with music.
George picked up the guitar and that sufficed for a while however, he felt he had something inside which he wanted to share to the world. This spiritual awakening drove him to singing and writing. He gained the recognition of local media and BBC radio when he independently released his debut single “Bottles”. The single went on to chart top 50 on the iTunes singer/songwriter charts.

Dr. Perry Jansen
Topic: A recipe for strengthening health systems

Dr. Jansen is an American family physician who moved his family to Malawi in 2000. Moved by the enormity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, he and a group of Malawians founded the Malawian non-profit Partners in Hope.
Their medical centre cares for over 7,000 HIV patients and leads a major PEPFAR-funded HIV/training program in over 90 facilities in six districts. PIH is committed to expanding to become a full service, non-profit teaching and research hospital.

Jamie Stuart

Topic: Educating one billion

Jamie Stuart is co-founder of onebillion, a nonprofit organisation based in London. He’s been building apps that succeed in bringing the fundamental skills of numeracy and literacy to young Malawians.
With his background in educational software development, he saw the potential for tablets to transform the way children around the world learn.

Jamie has been coming to Malawi for the past 7 years, and wants to see every Malawian child get the fundamental skills they deserve.

Mark Bennett
Topic: iSchool: Reinventing Education in Africa

Mark moved to Zambia in 1985 after a background in commercial IT in the UK to work at the main University. During his 12 years in Zambia, Mark established the campus company which was one of the early internet service providers in Africa.
Mark founded AfriConnect in the UK, which provided satellite-based internet services to remote areas around Africa. In 2005 he started AfriConnect in Zambia, a high-speed wireless-based ISP, which was later sold to Vodacom.

Mark now runs iSchool which he founded to provide comprehensive multi-lingual primary education in Africa, delivered via low-cost tablet computer or phone.

Bram Fudzulani
Topic: Digital Governance

Bram Fudzulani is a cyber-security evangelist, technologist and advocate for internet governance and net neutrality; he is also a fellow of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), AFRINIC which is the Regional Registry for Internet Number Resources serving the African Internet Community, and a fellow for the Internet Society Africa Peering forum (ISOC). Bram is also a member of the National ICT working group as well as the Internet Governance Forum local chapter.

Michael Phoya
Topic: WikiAfrica, Africanizing Wikipedia

Michael Mutisunge N Phoya (Muti) is a Malawian author, filmmaker, and new media strategist whose multi-disciplinary approach encompasses text, digital film, photography, and the web.
He is part of WikiAfrica – an international project to africanize Wikipedia through networks, research, projects, and publications.

Muti has also authored several books including the funny travelogue Walks of Life, the Other Side of Malawi (Central Africana 2011). He contributed to A Memory this Size – The Caine Prize for African Writing 2013 (New Internationalist 2013)

Habiba Osman
Topic: The neglected debate on human trafficking in Malawi

Habiba Rezwana Osman is a human rights lawyer and activist working specifically in the campaign against gender based violence, one of which is anti human trafficking.
Habiba is a Fulbright Fellow who obtained a masters degree in international human rights at the Centre for Civil and Human Rights, Notre Dame Law School, USA. She is both professionally well versed in human rights, human trafficking and gender issues and works with duty bearers, policy makers and grassroots in the area of expertise.

Habiba is currently working as a Gender Justice Advocate at Norwegian Church Aid and was recently the recipient of the Albright Vital Voices Fellowship 2014/2016.

Patrick Semphere
Topic: The Debates Hotspot

Patrick Semphere was the moderator of three first-ever 2014 presidential debates in Malawi. He is a consultant in media and communication management, organizational enhancement, family enrichment and gender empowerment with projects in Kenya, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zambia and Malawi. He consults widely for UN agencies and has also managed donor-funded projects with the World Bank, British High Commission, Commonwealth Education Fund, Canadian International Development Agency, Family Health International, Norwegian Church Aid and National Aids Commission.
For 8 years, Patrick headed Trans World Radio, was President of the Media Council of Malawi (2007 to 2014) and has served on the National Integrity Committee of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and the High Level Development Council.

An ordained pastor of Word Alive Church, Patrick holds a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, USA and a Bachelors’ Degree from the University of Malawi.

Bester Mulauzi
Topic:Real time monitoring of community based programs

Bester Mulauzi is a development practitioner with a passion for harnessing innovative approaches to social development issues. Bester is a specialist in program quality and evaluation and currently works for Save the Children International as a Director of Program Quality and Development.
Bester’s career has been dedicated to managing quality and impact of NGO’s work, having worked for several international NGO’s and multi-lateral organizations over the past 10 years. Bester is tech savvy and is always willing to exploit ICT when addressing challenges in the complex world of development programming. He is currently part of a team that is piloting the use of a mobile phone application called PanPhone to deliver pre-school early childhood education in rural Malawi.

Dr. Chomora Mikeka
Topic: Communication will be CHEApp

Dr. Chomora Mikeka was born on 6th January, 1978 and holds a PhD from the Division of Physics, Electrical and Computer Engineering at Yokohama National University, Japan. His PhD research was about power autonomous sensor radio based on cellular and digital TV RF energy harvesting. He has vast experience on research in ICT for agriculture, health and education. He is an innovator and recently filed a patent application for a device that is a multiple function antenna. During his PhD studies, he collaborated in the design, simulations and fabrication of an ultra-low power DC-DC buck boost converter with regulated output for less than a milliwatt RF energy harvesting used in modern day communications devices. This was done with colleagues from the Centre Tecnològic Telecomunicacions Catalunya, in Spain. He has held a Lecturer position at the Graduate School of Information Technology (Kobe Institute of Computing), training 30 African participants on Problem Resolution for Development Issues by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) *(J11-30012 )* (a JICA funded project).
Apart from being a lecturer, Dr. Chomora Mikeka coordinates the e-Communications Research Group (eCRG) at the Physics Department, Chancellor College of the University of Malawi on several research topics and projects, one such being on TV White Spaces Technology for Broadband Rural-Connect in Malawi. eCRG has been participating at most national ICT, and Science Fair and Exhibitions and has won 1st Prize in every year since its establishment on May 11, 2012. In 2012 it won the Young Advocates for the Advancement of ICT-related Development (Y.A.A.ICT-D) Award (cash prize); in 2013 eCRG won the Best ICT Research from the National Commission of Science and Technology (NCST) Award of Excellence (Certificate and Cash Prize) and in 2014 eCRG researchers contributed in the winning of the 12th National Science Fair’s First Best Exhibitor Prize (Gold Medal) which went to Chancellor College as the parent institution.

Dr. Mikeka has several other Awards including the 2009 European Microwave Association Student Challenge Prize in Rome (Italy). He won the 2011 IEEE RWW, Biomedical Radio and Wireless Technologies, Network and Sensing Systems Second Best Paper Award in Phoenix, Arizona (USA). He won the IEEE RFID-TA 2011, Third Best Paper Award in Sitges, Barcelona (Spain). He won the 2010 Yokohama National University International Science Exchange Encouragement Award in Yokohama (Japan). He is the 2014 – 2019 Junior Associate of the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy. His biography is included in the 27th edition of Marquis Who’s Who in the World. He is the Laureate of IBC TOP 100 ENGINEERS in 2010.

Dr Govind Saha
Topic: Future of Energy for Malawi

Dr Govind P Saha has over 30 years experience in the energy and utilities sector. Dr Saha was a Vice President in Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and a Senior Partner in Ernst & Young, New Zealand for 14 years. Dr Saha also worked in the New Zealand Ministry of Energy for 5 years, last two as the Director of Electricity Policy. Dr Saha has Masters and PhD degrees in Engineering from the University of Auckland and an MBA from the Victoria University of Wellington.
Dr Saha has been involved in numerous advisory projects within New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Namibia, South East Asia, and India. He has provided significant strategic, policy and regulatory advice to governments, regulators and businesses. These include acquisition and fit of major businesses with existing businesses; contractual issues; business and strategic planning for a number of new and existing businesses; regulatory advice to regulators and industry players; tariff design and specific pricing issues; business and commercial valuations, development of power generation and transmission projects and energy security of supply issues.

Friday, November 7, 2014

TEDx Lilongwe is back with inspiring talks for 2014, will also be streamed LIVE in Blantyre

TEDxLilongwe returns to Crossroads Hotel for a second year, presenting live talks, performances, and TEDTalk videos to spark deep discussion and connection. This years event has a theme of '50/50 Vision’ On the 50th anniversary of Malawi Independence, idea’s that will help shape the next 50 years. The speakers are yet to be announced but the MC for this year's event is Ndawa Lungu a Creative Designer, Marketer and Communications Enthusiast.

Where: Crossroads Hotel, Lilongwe

: Saturday 15 November, 8:00am to 4:00pm

Tickets: Tickets are available from Koko Bean Cafe @ Lilongwe Wildlife Centre and Papaya Cafe @ Game complex. Tickets cost MWK 6000 (includes entry to the event plus refreshments and lunch).

This year the event will also be STREAMED LIVE in Blantyre at The Polytechnic, Chichiri Campus.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a global set of conferences owned by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan: "Ideas Worth Spreading".

TED was founded in 1984 as a one-off event. The annual conference began in 1990, in Monterey, California. TED's early emphasis was technology and design, consistent with its origins in the Silicon Valley.

TEDx are independently organised events but are given a licence by the parent TED organisers. TEDx Lilongwe organised its first TEDx event last year at the same Crossroads Hotel. It has also been organising several live streaming events within Lilongwe. It will be the first time for this event to be STREAMED LIVE in Blantyre.

Last years speakers included well known Entrepreneur, Economist and Motivational Speaker, Henry Kachaje; Educationist, Dr Steve Sharra; Environmental Activist, Heather Lulu Maseko; Gender and Law Activist, Seodi White; Poet, Q Malewezi; Software Developer, Edmond Kachale; Social Entrepreneur, Racheal Sibande; African Storyteller, Masankho Banda; The boy who flies, Godfrey Masauli; Professional Photographer, The late Ellen Doherty; Maria Haralambidou and many more inspiring speakers.

Some of last year's speakers pose for a photograph


After the Saturday Event, TEDx Lilongwe has also organised a live TEDYouth conference streamed live from Brooklyn Museum, New York City on Sunday the 16th November. They will also be inspiring talks from local youths. The MC for TEDYouth will be Timveni TV Presenter and Marketer, Takondwa Phiri.

TEDYouth @ Lilongwe – Sun 16 November 2014
TEDxLilongwe Youth will showcase live, simulcast talks from the TEDYouth conference held in New York City. The day will also see inspiring talks from local Malawi youth.

Where: Crossroads Hotel, Lilongwe
When: Sunday 16 November, 8:00am onwards
Tickets: Tickets are being distributed through our event partners.

Image credits:
TedxLilongwe website and TED's website

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Writing for Afrikan Mbiu, a Kenyan Based Lifestyle African Magazine

From now own I will be contributing my articles to a Kenyan based online Magazine, Afrikan Mbiu. Afrikan Mbiu is a lifestyle magazine that showcases innovation and creativity in the African lifestyle space. The latest issue has a cover story of celebrated South African artists, Micasa. Afrikan Mbiu so far has three issues to its credit having started last year under the direction of Julliane Obonyo.

‘Mbiu’ is a Swahili term which translates to horn.Traditionally in African societies a horn was blown to call people to a single location to notify them about what was going on in that village.

The aim of the magazine is to show what Africa has to offer to the whole world. ‘Mbiu’ is the horn and it’s the medium used to call the rest of the world to come and witness what Africa and its lifestyle culture is all about. The word ‘Mbiu’ gives the magazine more of an African feel. It has contributors from all over Africa who write about what happens in their countries.

The main aim is to have a platform that can unite Africans. A platform in which we can learn about different African cultures. This ensures that you are always up to date with what is happening in Africa. The online magazine will be published once every two months.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Groceries Deliveries - Malawi's own online retailer and home delivery service

Shopping can be fun but it also needs time and effort. To some it is a time consuming activity while to others it is even more challenging because of the physical disabilities they have. In order to remove the hustle of going shopping for regular goods and standing on long queues, a Malawian owned and upcoming start-up, Groceries Deliveries, was established to supply and deliver groceries at your door step.

According to its founder and developer, Dumisani Ndhlovu, the start-up first had in mind people who are disabled, students, patients, tourists and executives who may not have time to go for shopping. He said Groceries Deliveries provide an easiest way to get groceries directly to ones home, workplace or any other place. Emulating the likes of Amazon, Groceries Deliveries is currently able to deliver goods within Blantyre City and some parts of Mangochi where they have customers.

Customers are asked to signup freely on their website and choose from over 5000 goods they have in stock. Then they are called by the Groceries and Deliveries team to discuss a mode of payment as they are not currently using online payment. After payment is agreed, the goods are delivered to the location in good time. Goods are currently sourced from various shops like Game Stores, Peoples, Shoprite, and Chipiku. Groceries and deliveries has also partnered with local companies like Universal Industries, Nali Limited, Dairiboard and Carlsberg Malawi.

Ndholvu however said that they have plans to reach out other districts of Malawi and to have their own shop where they can stock all the goods. He also talked about the challenges they are facing as a business in Malawi. He however was very pleased at the response they are getting. Groceries Deliveries currently employs 12 people.

Innovations at the Malawi Science and Technology Fair

The #Malawi Science and Technology Fair is underway at the Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds. It was officially opened by the Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Hon. Vincent Ghambi on 22nd October 2014. I took time to visit and appreciate the various Science ICT and technology innovations on display. Below are some of the innovations, technologies and ideas.

On the Chancellor College Faculty of Science stand

There are several innovations on display including some from students who are not yet in the college but are learning in secondary schools around Zomba. Under the Supervisorship of Dr Chimora Mikeka the students are given the freedom to use the university's lab to work on their ideas.

Radio Jammer / Detector

Using various electronic components sourced locally, Happy Chimbende a 4th Year student of Bachelor of Education Science has designed a simple radio frequency jammer and detector which can jam radio frequencies around a radius of 50 meters. The device is capable of nullifying signals like FM and AM, radios, phones or any gadget that uses radio frequencies. Happy has intentionally reduced the radius to avoid interfering with other people unlawfully.

The Radio frequency jammer can be used to block all unlicensed spectrum user at a give radius. We tried using it and it worked.

There is also an innovation from Mixon Faluweki a guy who invented a bicycle powered phone charger. Mixon, a third year Bachelor of Education Science student was shortlisted among top 15 African finalist in the Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Competition. He was nominated for his bicycle powered charger called, Padoko Charger. The innovation is on display at the Chancellor college stand.

A 14 year old girl from St Mary's Secondary School, Elizabeth Kananji is also displaying her High Efficiency Solar panel she managed to invent. A solar panel enhanced with aluminium foils is able to generate more electricity than a normal panel.

Then there is another 3rd year Bachelor of Education Science student, Chisomo Daka, who displayed a battery made from ashes and a locally made television transmitter. He explained to me on this video.

Other innovations included;

An idea to computerise the filing system at the Malawi Police Service. The web-based content management system is called Malawi Police Crime Management Information System. According to a member of the team that developed the system, Jonathan Mojoo, the want to help the police service to deal away with manual filing systems which is often abused and is time consuming.

An android app that translates English to Chichewa and another Android app that is used to collect Data in fields and update a central server in real time. All these innovations were under the supervision of Lecturers Dr Chimora Mikeka and Ms. Chipo Kanjo.

Malawi Communications Regulation Authority (MACRA) Stand

The regulatory body is displaying what happens behind the scenes when they monitor the signals all over the country. With various screens on display one is able to appreciate the way the frequency spectrum spans out in real time. They also have their monitoring van parked outside the hall.

Globe Internet Malawi Stand

Apart from being one of the big Internet Service Provider, Globe also sells and manages a vehicle monitoring system which is on display on their stand.

Other stands are TNM, MALSWITCH, Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), Anglia Books, Techno Brain and Infosys Consult.

However the turnout of both the participants, the innovations and general public is not impressive in the two days it has been running. The Fair will run up to Friday 24 October 2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

MyJobo - A Malawian solution to searching jobs online

There was a time when Malawians would scramble for newspapers at the various National Library Service offices just to check the days vacancies. Gone are those days as job search as been made easier. is a Malawian owned start-up which seeks to connect employers and employees, allow job seekers to maintain their job application history, provide business opportunities and give career advice to those in need of it. was launched as a beta site in July and plans to have a big launch in the coming months. So far the start-up has acquired a SSL security licence that puts it in the same light as reputable websites like Google and Twitter. This gives trust to both employers and employees because the security of their data is assured. The site allows users to upload CVs, create profiles and apply for various jobs online.

The site's mentor, Watipaso Mkandawire and its Operations Director, Geoffrey Banda are so far impressed with the response the site is getting from the general public. The site is also good for Malawians in diaspora who can also apply for jobs online. is a big step forward and is better than the vacancy posting Facebook groups which many Malawians are currently using. The Facebook groups have no facility to store the job applications you have made, they do not allow you to create an account or even store data. Another popular job searching site in Malawi is Jobs in Malawi website.

Friday, October 3, 2014


Life is Getting Brighter

SunnyMoney Malawi today launched two new affordable, portable, pico-solar lights. The new solar lights will add to their current range which includes; the extremely durable S2 that has an integrated solar panel, the Sun King Mobile that has a separate solar panel, detachable stand and a USB slot that enables it to charge mobile phones, and the Sun King Pro 2 an upgrade from the original Sun King Pro, the Sun King Pro 2 has 2 USB slots, a 3.3W separate solar panel and 3 brightness settings.

“I wanted to reduce torch battery cost since I had to buy them three times a week, my daughter was failing a lot at school so I bought the solar light so that she could have more reading hours. My daughter now is number one in her Standard 6 class.” Frolence – Mother from Karonga District, Malawi

In Malawi, 91% of the population is living without electricity, having to spend money on expensive torch batteries, impractical candles or dangerous and polluting paraffin on a daily basis. However; just like Frolence all that can be eliminated with a SunnyMoney solar light.

The S20

A favourite for single-room housing the S20 provides up to 8 hours of clean, bright 360-degree space lighting for any environment or focused light for studying, working, or cooking. It has a detachable handle and includes an integrated solar panel that makes recharging simple and easy. The S20 can be carried, hung or placed on any surface to effectively illuminate the surrounding area. With a battery life of 5 years and a 2 year replacement warranty, the S20 is a great cost efficient, cleaner and brighter alternative to paraffin, kerosene and other polluting lighting options. Suggested Retail Price: MK 6,500

The Marathoner Beacon MB2-380

The MB2-380 is a truly dynamic tri lamp lighting system. After just a single day charge the two secondary lamps give up to 70 hours of light while the primary lamp offers up to 150 hours of clean, bright light. This solar solution comes with a separate 5.5 watt solar panel and a torch/infrared remote control that allows users to change the brightness of the lamps from a distance. A charge indicator shows how many more hours of light it can offer before its next charge.

The MB2-380 can also charge mobile phones via a built in USB port, plus those with access to electricity may use the AC adapter as a charging option. Durable, impact resistant and waterproof the MB2-380 comes with a standard 2 year warranty and may be mounted on any surface or used as a portable handheld torch. Suggested Retail Price: MK 50,000

About SunnyMoney

SunnyMoney, founded by SolarAid, is a social enterprise that uses an innovative business model to sell and distribute solar lights in off-grid Africa to end dependency on costly, toxic kerosene. SolarAid is a UK-based international charity that believes in business-based solutions to poverty and climate change. By building a sustainable market for solar products SolarAid and SunnyMoney aim to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020.
For more information about SunnyMoney Malawi, please contact:

Phone: +265 (0) 997 034 806 / 0881 582 776

Physical Addresses:

Grey Building (office 13), next to Deekay Suppliers, in front of the DC office, Colby Road, Area 3, Lilongwe

Sunbird Mzuzu Hotel Complex (office 12), Mzuzu

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2261, Lilongwe, Malawi

SunnyMoney Global Media : Email:
Phone : +254 (0) 738 670 759 Website:

Smile and Win, Selfie Competition

Your smiling selfie can make you a winner! If you are in one of the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, UK and Zambia you stand a chance of winning a Solar light provided by Sunny Money. You simply need to email your smiling selfie to enter the competition. A perfect Mother's day gift in Malawi.

About the Smile & Win competition

Simply email a selfie of your BRIGHTEST, SUNNIEST SMILE to Each week we will pick the Brightest, Sunniest Smile and reward them with a SunnyMoney Solar Light. Winners will be announced every Friday and will have their image on and on SunnyMoney’s Facebook and Twitter pages for an entire week!

Participating countries:



- Participants must be 18 years or older
- This competition is only open to participants in the UK, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia
- *Terms and Conditions apply

For more information visit Sunny Money's website

N.B. A selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often shared on social networking services such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and Twitter. They are usually flattering and made to appear casual. Most selfies are taken with a camera held at arm's length or pointed at a mirror, rather than by using a self-timer.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ending the use of paraffin by 2020 with Solar Aid and Sunny Money

It is estimated that over 110 million households, translating 600 million people in Africa have no access to Electricity. In Malawi, only 7% of the population has access to electricity. The other 93% use paraffin (kerosene) to light their homes. Even though it is used by a majority of the population, paraffin is known to be a dangerous fuel, a major cause of home accidents, is expensive, and is not a healthy option. Paraffin's impact on climate change is also well documented.

Imagine a world without Kerosene! This is an ambitious goal of one leading international charity organisation, SolarAid. Founded in 2006 by Jeremy Leggett a British green-energy entrepreneur, author and activist who is also a founder and chairman of Solarcentury, the UK’s largest independent solar electric company and Chairman of the Carbon Tracker Initiative.

Solar Aid is operating in five African countries of Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi through a wholly owned social initiative, Sunny Money. Sunny Money was founded in 2008 to be part of an innovative charitable model that takes a business approach in tackling poverty and climate change.

In Africa, Sunny Money is offering a low cost, safe, clean and brighter alternative to the use of paraffin. they have a wide range of solar lamps that are being distributed in the five countries through a well coordinated network of schools and agents. As of 28th September 2014, 1,340, 490 solar lamps have been sold according to their website.

In Malawi, Sunny Money is working with the Ministry of Education and a team of agents across the Central and Northern Region of Malawi. According to the Operations Director, Francois Gordon, in the 2014 country report (PDF), 22,800 lights were sold in 2013 translating into 125,000 people accessing clean, bright and safe light. 52,000 people accessed better health because of the reduced use of kerosene. It is also estimated that 74 million hours extra study time for children using solar lights for homework was achieved.

There are several types of solar lamps on sale in Malawi with prices ranging from 10USD(MK4,000) to 140USD (MK56,000) with a minimum of one year warranty. It is very cheaper to use one of these solar lamps because it is a one off payment unlike kerosene which is bought almost every time it is needed. A research (PDF)conducted by the Sunny Money team in its communities concluded that:

• Solar lights save money, reducing their cost-of-living by 10-20% monthly (an average of $117/year)

• Increased income – significant positive impact on productivity and income generation

• Increased study time, children are able to study after dark resulting in two or more extra hours a per night

• Improved health – reduced exposure to kerosene’s toxic fumes, reduction in coughing, eye irritation and risk of burns

• Environmental benefits - reduced CO2 emission (released when burning kerosene) and improvements in quality of ambient (indoor) air

credits: pictures from solaraid and sunnymoney websites, facts from Malawi country report and sunnymoney media kit.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cars265, lets you buy cars online, in Malawi

Malawians have been buying cars online for some years now. Despite being too involving and risky, Malawians have been going through the laborious process in order to own their dream cars. It has not been an easy way. Some have lost money along the way, some have received damaged cars or even a different kind from the one they ordered online. Not anymore!

Cars265 is a Malawian owned website that aims to sell old and new cars within Malawi. The website is an easy to use site that shows various types of vehicles on sale. The prices are quoted in Kwacha. According to Dingaan Whayo the Marketing Manager of Cars265, the price shown on the site is the real price of the car. There is no need to pay shipping costs, registration, duty or any hidden costs as the vehicles are already registered. The site uses seven search options including minimum price, body type and location within Malawi.

The coming in of Cars265 follows plans by a Japanese selling company, Beforward, to open an office in Lilongwe to manage he growing market of used cars in Malawi. However this move was no well received by some small scale used car sellers in Malawi. The sellers have been thriving their businesses in importing cars from Japan, Dubai, etc and selling them at higher prices in Malawi.

Over the years Malawians have been importing cars from Japan and Dubai online through companies like Beforward. The cars are delivered the port of Dar es Salaam or Durban. Durban is no longer a popular port since the South African government issued a directive that all in transit imported cars should be ferried on vehicle carriers up to Beitbridge. This pushed the cost of transporting the car from the port.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Malawi : Whither Secession or Federation

During my secondary school days, i discovered the art of reading books. I came across a collection of 130 novels by different African authors under the banner Pacesetters. Most of the stories' themes ranged from love, rags to riches (sometimes back to rags), war and poverty. One civil war that featured highly in these easy to read novels was the secession of a South Eastern Nigerian State of Biafra. From 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970, Odumegwu Ojukwu led the Republic of Biafra after successful de-linking the state from the parent Nigeria. What followed was a two and a half year civil war which only ended with the Biafra State getting back to Nigeria.

I have followed with keen interest the calls by some Malawians to change the current Malawi setup and adopt a federation system. Some have even gone a step further by calling for secession of the Northern Region of Malawi. The last time i checked we still had freedom of expression in a democratic country. These people have every right to voice out their opinions on the issues of federation and secession. It will be even better if a healthy debate (even a referendum) is called to reach out to make people whose voice cannot be heard in the current setup.

However i suggest that all parties should sober up and conduct a healthy debate. In my research on the two topics, i have come up with two countries that can give us a good lesson on both federation and secession. Canada and Nigeria The city of Quebec and the state of Biafra can provide us with great case studies for our debates. Nigeria and Canada have both the federation and have all fought secession for a long time. We can learn both the peaceful means of secession, the violent way of secession and co-existence of the states in a federal setup.

From the research i have been conducting, the regions calling for federation will not benefit much from the federal system of government. In a federal state, there is still a central government that runs the government. The federal governments will still be accountable to the central government. So if the leaders in the central government are bent towards one region, they will still be in control of affairs.

The only way a region can champion its own development agenda is secession. There are strong calls for secession from my region, the north. However there is no known movement on the ground that can champion the secession campaign. Secession is creating a new nation like what South Sudan did. It is a completely new government in a region, state, city or area. In the Malawi case, if the north secedes, (which is doubtful), it will have its own central government. Its own parliament and it will not get any support from Malawi. In cases like Biafra, the parent nation can force a blockade to the new nation if the secession was not properly agreed. A blockade on Biafra and the civil war are what failed the new nation to succeed.

My take is that much as secession will guarantee development to the north (assuming the leaders have the welfare of people at heart), we have not exhausted all the ways possible to bring development to the north. The biggest challenge is the tribalism that has taken root in most institutions in Malawi. We can blame the current government for driving a nepotism agenda but show me which government would have done differently. Almost all the major parties that competed on May 20, 21 and 22 elections are backed by regions and tribes. The north is crying foul now because it has no major force to usher it into power in the coming elections. However, we have a lot of northerners in the decision making positions who can influence change in the way elections are conducted.

Tribalism is Africa's common problem and it is a major cause of under development. However behind this tribalism problem is illiteracy. Our people lack basic knowledge of things. One can argue that there are more educated Africans who also practice tribalism. We have a bigger problem in our hands which cannot only be solved by seceding or making Malawi a federal state. I would suggest that we do the following:

1. Rewrite the constitution to address all the loopholes
2. Consult widely on the best electoral system and adopt it
3. Invest in Education
4. Create equal job and investment opportunities for all