Welcome to our Hacks: Decoded Interview series!
Once a month, Mozilla Foundation’s Xavier Harding speaks with people in the tech industry about where they’re from, the work they do and what drives them to keep going forward. Make sure you follow Mozilla’s Hacks blog to find more articles in this series and make sure to visit the Mozilla Foundation site to see more of our org’s work.
Meet Samuel Aboagye!
Samuel Aboagye is a genius. Aboagye is 17 years old. In those 17 years, he’s crafted more inventions than you have, probably. Among them: a solar-powered bike and a Bluetooth speaker, both using recycled materials. We caught up with Ghanaian inventor Samuel Aboagye over video chat in hopes that he’d talk with us about his creations, and ultimately how he’s way cooler than any of us were at 17.
Samuel, you’ve put together lots of inventions like an electric bike and Bluetooth speaker and even a fan. What made you want to make them?
For the speaker, I thought of how I could minimize the rate at which yellow plastic containers pollute the environment. I tried to make good use of it after it served its purpose. So, with the little knowledge, I acquired in my science lessons, instead of the empty container just lying down and polluting the environment, I tried to create something useful with it.
After the Bluetooth speaker was successful, I realized there was more in me I could show to the universe. More importantly, we live in a very poor ventilated room and we couldn’t afford an electric fan so the room was unbearably hot. As such, this situation triggered and motivated me to manufacture a fan to solve this family problem.
With the bike, I thought it would be wise to make life easier for the physically challenged because I was always sad to see them go through all these challenges just to live their daily lives. Electric motors are very expensive and not common in my country, so I decided to do something to help.
Since solar energy is almost always readily available in my part of the world and able to renew itself, I thought that if I am able to make a bike with it, it would help the physically challenged to move from one destination to another without stress or thinking of how to purchase a battery or fuel.
So how did you go about making them? Did you run into any trouble?
I went around my community gathering used items and old gadgets like radio sets and other electronics and then removed parts that could help in my work. With the electrical energy training given to me by my science teacher after discovering me since JHS1, I was able to apply this and also combined with my God-given talent.
Whenever I need some sort of technical guidance, I call on my teacher Sir David. He has also been my financial help for all my projects. Financing projects has always been my biggest struggle and most times I have to wait on him to raise funds for me to continue.
The tricycle: Was it much harder to make than a bike?
Yes, it was a little bit harder to make the tricycle than the bike. It’s time-consuming and also cost more than a bike. It needs extra technical and critical thinking too.
You made the bike and speaker out of recycled materials. This answer is probably obvious but I’ve gotta ask: why recycled materials? Is environment-friendly tech important to you?
I used recycled materials because they were readily available and comparable to cheap and easy to get. With all my inventions I make sure they are all environmentally friendly so as not to pose any danger now or future to the beings on Earth. But also, I want the world to be a safe and healthy place to be.
About Xavier Harding
Xavier Harding is a writer on the content team here at Mozilla. Formerly, Xavier was a journalist where he covered consumer tech and the tech industry. In the past, Xavier’s written for Popular Science, BuzzFeed, Lifehacker, Mic, Newsweek, Fortune and Vox. Most recently Xavier worked at The Markup, but not before earning a Webby Award in 2019 for his story on how one cinematographer properly lights the HBO show Insecure for black faces — a story watched by millions. Now, at Mozilla, Xavier assists on advocacy projects like the Newsbeat, Breaking Bias, and the Dialogues and Debates interview series, which focuses on tech topics like misinformation, contact-tracing and the role technology plays in addressing racial injustices.