While investments in solar maybe the promise of our future, giving a sixteen year old a $100,000 contract to research, design, test and develop his own solar panel technology could seem reckless and even wasteful — until you meet the teen in question.

Kelvin Doe, a.k.a. D.J. Focus, is a self-taught electrical engineer, inventor, entrepreneur and proud resident of Sierra Leone.

photo by Kano Computing
photo by Kano Computing
“I believe if you focus, you can do an invention perfectly." ~~ Kelvin Doe

In a country where electric power is rarely available for such mundane things as lighting homes at night, Kelvin salvaged electronic scraps from the garbage dump and through trial-and-error and reverse engineering  invented a metal, soda and alkali battery that could reliably power lights in his neighbor’s homes.  He also built a 12V generator out of old DVD players, which he used to keep his battery charged.

Two of the most valuable items in his community are cell phones and radios.  Kelvin regularly charged neighbors phones with his equipment and by 14, had started his own radio station that generated advertising from which he paid employees (friends) to help.

Broadcasting from his home, he entertained and shared community news and information using a three-channel mixer, sound amplifier and microphone receiver he engineered from recycled electronic parts, electrical tape and cardboard.

Placing part of solar’s future into the hands of a sixteen year old in Sierra Leone maybe unexpected, but as Kelvin points out:

"Creativity is universal and can be found in places where one does not expect to find it. And perseverance and passion are essential to nurturing that creative ability.” ~~ Kelvin Doe

Necessity is still the mother of invention and for a young man in tune with the needs of his community and with the passion, perseverance and history of providing a solution to those needs, I’m betting Kelvin Doe’s creative ability, enhanced by the investment and lab from Canada’s Sierra WiFi , will find a way to provide a reliable power source that his family and community so desperately need.

Maybe now with his community expanded through TedxTeen and MIT, we all will be lucky enough to benefit from one his inventions soon.

*Another great Kelvin Doe video by THNKR

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