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Inspiring African StoriesA 24-year-old Sierra Leonean has Invented Sierra Leone's first solar-powered car made...

A 24-year-old Sierra Leonean has Invented Sierra Leone’s first solar-powered car made out of trash

Emmanuel Alieu Mansaray is a 24-year-old self-taught Sierra Leonean inventor, engineer, renewable energy expert, and a student of the Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Geology. He attained his high school certificate from the Methodist Boys High School, Freetown. It all started in 2018 when he built the first locally made solar-powered tricycle in Sierra. Fast forward to 2020, Emmanuel Alieu Mansaray invented the first ‘solar-powered’ car in his country, Sierra Leone. His passion for the environment and to solve social issues affecting his community led him to invent the solar-powered car. He called the car ‘The imagination Solar Car’.

Emmanuel’s first solar-powered tricycle

‘Imagination Solar Car’ is Sierra Leone’s first locally made solar-powered car. It’s an Eco-friendly car, which does not use any fossil fuel to power it. The body of the car is built with bamboo (cane stick) which is a local material throughout. This car can cover a distance of 15km per hour on a tarred road.
The ‘Imagination Solar Car’ has a large solar panel at the top of it which powers the engine and also acts as its canopy. The car has a self-made engine which is different from all other cars with three gears attached to it for both back and front movement. It has a left and right traffic light, a horn, four headlights, and an accurate brake system. It has two doors and two mirrors attached to its left and right flanks.

Furthermore, this solar-powered car is pollution-free, and it operates by converting sunlight into electrical energy using photovoltaic cells. Therefore, it does not produce harmful or hazardous emissions. So, since solar energy is a renewable source, the sunlight that is used to power this car today will still be there tomorrow, and will continue to shine for years to come and so does the ‘Imagination Solar Car’.

Emmanuel testing his solar-powered car in the street of Freetown

I had an interview with him to tell his story to the world. Here is what he got to say:

Q. Tell us about your invention and what prompted you to invent the solar-powered car?

“The Imagination car was built firstly as a result of the knack in me to invent creative technology in solving social problems in my community. So, I decided to create the ‘Imagination Solar Car’ which is powered by the sun to reduce the risk of contracting incommunicable and respiratory diseases like lung cancer, asthma, etc. caused by the inhaling of hazardous fumes emitted by cars using other types of fuel (fossil, gaseous and liquid).

Emmanuel working at home

In 2018, the number of chronic lower respiratory diseases (including asthma) deaths in the world is 159,486 and respiratory diseases ranked the 4th Cause of the world.
Goal 7 of the Sustainable Development Goals talks about ‘Clean Energy’ and having a solar car like my ‘Imagination Car’ using solar power for transportation will make for a cleaner atmosphere, thereby reducing the risk of dangerous gaseous emissions that have led to the death of thousands of people around the world.

Furthermore, this solar-powered car is pollution-free, and it operates by converting sunlight into electrical energy using photovoltaic cells. Therefore, it does not produce harmful or hazardous emissions. So, since solar energy is a renewable source, the sunlight that is used to power this car today will still be there tomorrow, and will continue to shine for years to come and so does the ‘Imagination Solar Car’.”

Q. Where and how did you learn innovation?

“I learned innovation since I was a child. During my primary school days, I used to pick up trash cans (example: milk tin, tomato tin, etc.) which I used to make different types of cars. I also used to collect trash batteries from the dust bin and convert them to supply electricity. So I’ve learned innovation since I was a kid.”

Q. What’s the reason behind a solar-powered car?

“The reason behind creating a solar-powered car is that I want the world to use cars that don’t use fuel. Because those vehicles that fuel emit poisonous gas to the atmosphere which affects the oxygen that we inhale which has hurts human body causing respiratory illness. Also, people with disabilities do not from the environment; meaning the environment they’re living in is not friendly. For example, they (people with disabilities) normally encounter discrimination in public transport.

Emmanuel Alieu Mansaray

Most times they (people with disabilities) don’t allow them to onboard public transport vehicles because of their disability. Some disabled people have cars that they can’t drive unless they paid individuals to drive them because their feet can’t reach down the clutch, brake, and accelerator, which is challenging. But for my ‘Imagination solar-powered car’, all the features are installed in the steering; including the clutch, brake and accelerator, and all other necessary features. With all this, every disabled person can drive with less to worry about. These are some of the main reasons I invented this solar-powered car.”

Q. How many kilometers does the solar-powered car cover?

“The solar-powered car cover 15 kilometers per hour. It covers more than 90 kilometers per day, which If there’s intensive sunlight, at times more than that.”

Q. What are your dreams and aspirations?


“My dreams and aspirations, I just want to help my people and the country as a whole. I want to fly the Sierra Leone flag higher above all other flags. I want to enable a safer environment for my people wherein they will use renewable energy that can be beneficial for them, especially when it comes to health. I want to make everything seems easier for people and make the environment safe. If we hearing about global warming and climate change, it’s because of the use of fossil fuel, generators, machines, and vehicles. My aim and dream are to work for my country, have a successful career, and help develop my country, Sierra Leone.”

Q. What are some of the challenges you’re encountering as an inventor in Sierra Leone?

“The challenges are numerous. Ranging from lack of funding, lack of sponsorship, lacking mentorship, lack of raw materials to do my job. Sometimes I went to the dumpsites, dist bins, and scrap yards just to get the materials I need to do my work. It’s very difficult to have brand new materials to do my job. Sometimes I meet people for help and they don’t. Some people won’t even motivate me, instead they’ll try to kill my dream with negative energy. Some people are seeing me doing a great job, all they’ll have to say is “this is nice, this is good” but they won’t ask me what I need or want or what are the resources I need to do more than this. The challenges are plenty. No opportunities for young people, no laboratories to experiment with certain things, and some components I used to work on are not available in Sierra Leone so I have to buy them online. There’s no structured market system to have the right materials I need for my work. The challenges are plenty!”

Q. What message do you have for potential sponsors and the government?

“My message to people that would want to come on board and help, this is just the beginning. I have a lot of inventions that will solve pressing issues that affect our environment and the country. I’m ready to give solutions to those problems. Solutions to electricity problem, water problem, and also health problems. The solutions are plenty that I have in store. I’m hoping for any opportunity or sponsorship or funding, I promise to give them my best. I’m ready to help, with my innovative ideas, people that are suffering in the rural areas in sectors like electricity, water supply, health care facility, etc. I’m ready to give a helping hand with my innovative ideas. Continue to trust in me and believe in me.”

This story was first published by Sierra Leone’s leading mobile storytelling platform: Salone Messenger

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