Chedza solar backpack attains international credit

28 Aug 2022

Without electricity, children miss out on opportunities to access the quality of education that meets modern standards.

To a certain extent, that is the reality of many children in rural areas, a situation that gave design and innovation specialist, Mr Kedumetse Liphi a push to start his latest product, Chedza Solar Backpack.

The backpack, made out of a durable and waterproof canvas charges during the day using the sun rays and can emit light at night for six to seven hours. 

It also has the capacity to charge or power-boost such small gadgets as cell phones.

Because of its capabilities to charge small gadgets, the backpack provides children in areas where there is no electricity at home an opportunity to learn from digital tools and data found online, thereby advancing digitisation.

On how the inspiration came about, Mr Liphi said, “One day while driving around, I came across a student who used the 5kg Tastic rice packaging for a school bag. We offered the kid a ride home, where we discovered that the household was living below the poverty bracket,” said the 32-year-old former soldier from Senete village.  

He said the situation was so appalling that immediately he and his team made an urgent proposal to government to provide support. “Immediately we proposed getting the household basic needs including mostly toiletries and foodstuffs. As for the kid, we brought together our innovative minds to come up with a solar backpack which offered a series of benefits for the user.”

Trading under the name Ked-Liphi, a business that specialises in Innovations and Auto Electrical Engineering, Mr Liphi said the backpack was done with the intention to add value to the life of the student.

He said at first they made a prototype, which proved to carry the ideal solution they envisioned and was premiered on CNN to the appreciation of many people across the globe.  

The solar backpack, which weighs 1.1kg, can last for five years and to access the charging port, one has to unzip the small pocket a.

It is clear that for Mr Liphi, strategic focus was centred on coming up with ideas that were not available anywhere in the rest of the world.  

“You know that there are a lot of solar backpacks out there and they work only during the day, but with the Chedza prototype you charge the bag itself then it allows you to use it at night,” he said.

The backpack has a switch that turns on a light ideally intended for studying at night, especially in the absence of electricity.  

It also has a combined security feature for the winter season when darkness sets in early, which allows blue and red safety lights to be switched on for visibility.

 

When Mr Liphi and his team made the backpack, they also had in mind elders in the villages who did not have electricity, but would like to own cellular phones. 

“With an advanced charging port one will at least afford to charge their phone battery and be able to communicate,” he said.

In an effort toward commercialisation, Mr Liphi said so far they have managed to produce 100 Chedza backpacks, which were sold out within a week, citing that most buyers were purchasing towards making charitable donations in remote areas.

Subsequently, his marketing team took the product to the 2022 South African International Trade Fair Exhibition (SAITEX), where to their surprise the demand was high.

Mr Liphi said considering the backpacks’ five-year durability plan, most South Africans were interested in having the product as an interim solution to their power interruptions and load-shedding.

He said the backpack was made up of waterproof and durable canvas, hence keen interest from prospective buyers across the globe.

With clear set intentions, he said the idea was to also create a sound value chain that local companies and individuals could tap into, mentioning they relied on local electronic shops for raw materials such as canvas and engineering items.

To this end, he said they outsourced the knitting of the backpacks to a local company that managed to assist them with their first batch of 100 bags.

Mr Liphi did not hide his excitement for having positioned his company as one of the innovators who stood to create social impact, citing the recent orders from local commercial banks, which exceed over 3 000 backpacks. 

He said this had propelled an urgent need for them to set up a production warehouse that would enable them to meet the set quality standards.

“We recently closed yet another contract with an international military group that wanted the same backpack with advanced features including a tracker and a solar mess tin for warming foodstuffs when in the jungle,” he said.

Just this month, Ked-Liphi showcased their product at the NAP EXPO side event dubbed: Transformations to Adapt: Voice of Youth.

The event was attended by delegates from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism including Ms Philda Kereng the minister and UN Climate Change Champions who appreciated the product.

He said Ms Kereng introduced them to both the levy and national environmental fund, which in future could assist the company to scale up.

Furthermore, he said the UN Climate Change Champions - Africa director and special advisor, Ms Bogolo Kenewendo sensitised them on business opportunities available to support innovative projects and funding for green such initiatives as theirs.

“She encouraged us to familiarise ourselves with the upcoming COP27 and the Gabon climate change event and encouraged us to develop a keen interest in pitching presentations regarding our level of understanding and appreciation of UN SDG 7,” he said.

Mr Liphi joined the Botswana Defence Force on July 2011 said left the army in April this year to focus on pursuing his long-term dream of being an innovator of note.

His other innovations include an automatic diagnostic combo machine he made during the early time of COVID-19.

“The innovation was the first to be patented under Ked Liphi and was used for registrations, temperature recordings, and sanitisation,” he said. 

He said due to unavailability of funds he could not commercialise the machine, but was looking into advancing the product for military operations, citing that Company and Intellectual Property Authority helped him a lot in getting the product patented.

He said gladly the machine got recognition from the Ministry of Health. ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Marvin Motlhabane

Location : GABORONE

Event : Interview

Date : 28 Aug 2022