The media is a vital tool in shaping and influencing people’s perception and interpretation of Africa and Africans and people of African ancestry. We all can agree that Western media portray Africa as a poverty-stricken, war-ravaged, and disease-ridden continent, which also reinforces other negative stereotypes. Africa’s fast-growing youthful population is changing the western narrative and perception about Africa. Today, millions of Africans are contributing to the continent’s technology industry.
A 27-year-old Nigerian fabrication engineer and Chief Executive Officer of Bennie Technologies LTD., Jerry Issac Mallo made history by building the first Nigerian-made fiber sports car in Nigeria and West Africa. Jerry Issac Mallo was born in Plateau state in 1994. He started his elementary education at King’s School, Gana Ropp, in Plateau State. He later did his post-elementary education when he went to Boys Secondary School, Gindiri, Plateau State. He proceeded to the University of Hertfordshire, UK via a scholarship. He was an art student in secondary school. He decided to switch to sciences when he wanted to write the senior secondary school certificate examination. He eventually studied Engineering at the university.
At the age of five, Jerry Mallo already knew he what he wanted – to work in the automotive industry. Growing up in a small village in Nigeria, Jerry Mallo started making toy cars with trash. He told Tayo Aina, a Nigerian YouTuber in an interview “I always wanted my toy cars to be the best among my peer group. I always dedicated my time to make them. At some point, I used old slippers to make the tyres. Sometimes I even use my new slippers to make it look good.”
In 2012, at age 18, whilst he was in secondary school, he built his first ‘life-size’ car made out of trash. He cut short his studies in the UK and returned to Nigeria to start manufacturing cars. Africa, according to him, has all the resources and raw materials used in manufacturing vehicles, but sadly they are seldom made in Africa. Hence, another reason why he decided to venture into the manufacturing of cars – to fill that void. In 2019, Chief Executive Officer, Bennie Technologies Limited, Jerry Isaac Mallo, made national headlines in November when he unveiled Nigeria’s first luxury sports car – the Bennie Purrie. Designed with carbon fibre to give it a more robust safety quality, the Bennie Purrie is not the first notable product this entrepreneur and automotive engineer has made. Mallo had long made a brand out of the Jos-based Bennie as a ‘machine design, fabrication, and manufacturing company that simplifies local agricultural processes via mechanization and automation.’ He also made headlines last year by unveiling Nigeria’s first locally made ventilator to support the Nigerian government in the fight against Covid-19.
In an interview with Channels TV, he said: “In Europe, we learned that making the car is just half of the challenge, and selling it is the other half; Africa is usually the target place to sell these vehicles, so I feel there’s a big market for it here.” On the safety feature of the material, he explained that most people are crushed and mashed in cars because those cars are made from aluminium or galvanized sheets that cannot absorb shocks at high speed.
The Bennie Purrie sports car has a great cooling system, with four radiators to ensure it remains cool inside regardless of the temperature. In terms of speed, this first model goes from 0 to 120 in 12 seconds and has a 2.0-liter engine that produces about 130 horsepower. The “Bennie Purrie” is made of fibers that have the advantage of breaking like glass or bottles in case of a car crash, while the airbags protect the individuals inside. This car is also made with tubular chassis to make it strong enough to withstand Nigerian roads. When asked what was his inspiration in an interview with Tedge News he said: “I studied automotive engineering, that’s the manufacturing of cars not mechanical and I’m building agro equipment and other hardware not because that’s what I studied in school but what I’ve learned. It was self-thought. I learned it online. Google and YouTube are where I spent most of my time and my time in the morning. I learn from there.”
“I don’t expect Nigerians to accept Nigerian product at once. I know and believe it’s a gradual process. Gradually, you’ll have to give them reasons to believe in it; you’ll have to prove to them that it has a better quality, you’ll have to give them a reason to use Nigerian. Over time, I have confidence that the patronage would get better.”Jerry Mallo
Making sports cars is not only what he does. Jerry Mallo also makes agricultural machines. His second company Bennie Agro Ltd is an agro and industrial machine design and fabrication company located in Jos, Plateau. The company fabricates machines that aid in farm processes and adding value to foods. What they do is to meet with farmers, hear their problems, and develop designs that best solve these problems, simplifying their agricultural processes by mechanization and automation. Bennie Agro Ltd fabricates machines that are used all through the agricultural process – tractors, planters, weeding machines, harvesters, threshers. It has also developed machines that process rice, maize, cassava, millet, groundnut, oilseeds, among others.