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Corled Nkosi: Self-made engineer behind Kasangazi Hydro-Electrical Power Plant

Written by  Leonard Masauli


Nkosi explaining how the power generating plant works - Pic by Leonard Masauli

Mzimba, January 7: He is multi-talented. At 31, Corled Nkosi, an MSCE holder he obtained at Mzimba Secondary School in 2006 is carpenter, a builder and a self-motivated electrical engineer behind Kasangazi Hydro-Electrical Power Plant. 

His ability to divert water from Kasangazi River, create own water fall through gravitational force and able to generate power of over 300 volts testifies on his behalf.

With just 10-metre plastic pipes and a generator connected to some wires, he is able to generate power and transmit it through a line of about two kilometres to his Yobe Nkosi Village.

Unlike Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) which charges its power per usage, Nkosi is like a Good Samaritan. He provides the power free of charge to over 11 households with a population of over 30 people.

In his explanation, Nkosi says he started doing electrical engineering way back during his secondary school days.

“I used to play with electrical appliances during school days at Mzimba Secondary School. I used to fix electrical faults at school,” he explains.

He says the idea to build his own hydro electric power plant was hatched in 2012 after he had seen someone in Nkhata-Bay who generated his own power.

“I knew I could not fail to build my own power plant and that’s how I came to start assembling the materials,” he narrates.

Realizing that living in the dark was not on and that using candles and lamps was not sustainable, the 31 year old Nkosi thought on how best he could come up with the innovation to make up for ESCOM’s unavailability of power in some of his village’s households.

 “I bought a generator engine, plastic pipes and some wires. I diverted part of the water through a 10 metre pipe and squeezed the water through a two-litre Sobo bottle at the end of the pipe to increase pressure and make sure that the water comes out with full force to drive the turbine, thereby making the motor to generate power,” says Nkosi.

 

Electricity line carrying power from the plant to houses for domestic use - Pic by Leonard Masauli

Having spent over MK180, 000 to come up with the plant, including the power lines to his village, today, he proudly supplies power to his relatives and the entire village. 

Their lives have extremely changed and almost at par with people staying in towns and cities that use electricity.

“Life has changed completely; we are like a village in a city. I am able to watch TV, listen to radio and play music without being scared of power outages.

“I also run a barber shop and I charge peoples’ phones from the surrounding villages from which I make a cool K25, 000 per month,” boasts Nkosi.

He now has a dream to provide power to the nearby Kasangazi Primary School so that pupils and teachers can use the night to study and prepare for their lessons respectively without problems.

In addition to extending power to the school, Nkosi also plans to use the power to pump water to supply his village. This initiative will provide easy access to free water by Nkosi’s village because currently, they walk long distances to get water.

"I lack skills to upgrade the system to the required standard so that I am able to generate enough power to supply to my area. If there are people who can help me with such ideas I can appreciate," he appeals.

 However, Nkosi’s success is not challenge-free, he complains about increased water pressure at his plant during rainy season, saying it increases the voltage but he cannot control the current. The situation has led to people losing appliances due to high voltage.

He further says silt from the river creates another problem as he doesn’t have the mechanism to control and clear it during rainy season.

Nevertheless, Nkosi’s innovation has brought happiness in the hearts of the benefiting villagers.

Mangaliso Nkosi, one of the beneficiaries from the village, says the two year-journey with the electric power has been rosy and full of enjoyment.

“We are in town. We can charge our phones, light the house, watch TV and we can do anything with the power. Our life has really gone an extra mile,” he says while playing his music from his DVD.

Weyani Luhanga, another beneficiary, says she does not want to live in town anymore because the kind of life in her village is just the same as in town.

“We used to struggle to get paraffin and could mostly sleep in the dark. [Now] we have power all night. I am able to charge my phone and listen to the radio full time.
“And we thank God for giving him such innovation to bail out people of Yobe Nkosi Village,” says Luhanga.

ESCOM’s spokesperson, Kitty Chingota, hails the innovation by Nkosi. He says it is the wish of government to see people diversify in energy and come up with such innovations to complement government efforts.

Without such an innovation, the 11 households of Yobe Nkosi in Mzimba would not have tasted how it feels to have electricity in the home.