20 years old Sierra Leonean self-taught engineer and innovator, James Samba has built Sierra Leone’s first-ever electric vehicle equipped with self-recharging capability made with 75% local materials.
Three months ago, James Samba started his journey to becoming the first Sierra Leonean to locally manufacture an electric vehicle. He started working this dream of his in a friend’s garage where he usually brought in local trash collected from the streets of Freetown.
As Einstein once said, “necessity is the mother of invention.” Speaking, James said he got the inspiration to build an electric vehicle from his uncle who is handicapped. He says seeing his uncle going around strenuously pushed him to do something. Being the one who normally helps his uncle to ride the wheelchair he uses to move around, he thought of doing something that could help the movement of his uncle look easier. So he thought of making an electric vehicle which is user-friendly for persons living with disability who finds it very difficult to have accessible public transportation.
Of course, his uncle’s condition inspired him but also what added to his inspiration is climate change and global warming. The use of fossil fuels, according to scientists, has caused a lot of damage to our planet and thus caused global warming and climate change which have negatively impacted the lives of the world population, especially those living in developing countries like Sierra Leone. This artificial phenomenon caused by human activities has affected billions of people and kills approximately 150,000 people annually. James’ idea is to be part of the solution instead of the problem by creating an eco-friendly electric vehicle that doesn’t emit Carbon monoxide.
James’ electric vehicle is a 10-seater shuttle minibus. It’s solar-powered and electric-powered. It comes with a self-recharging system which makes it easier to be used in places or countries without access to electricity. The vehicle is also made to accommodate persons with disability.
Sierra Leone is a country that relies heavily on imported goods likes fuel, which makes the price of fuel inconsistent. Recently, the country has seen a surge in fuel price and increase in fuel price has been imminent since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war. As the price of fuel increases, so does the cost of transportation from one place to the other increase and thus affects the economy of the country thereby negatively impacting the standard of living of the common Sierra Leonean. As an innovator, James Samba wants to see an alternative to fuel in his country of Sierra Leone.
THE RISE IN FUEL PUMP PRICES HAS BEEN A CHALLENGE FOR THE TRANSPORTATION SECTOR IN SIERRA LEONE. THIS HAS MADE THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION INCREASE AND MOST OF THE TIME DIFFICULT TO ACCESS TRANSPORT VEHICLES. I SEE THIS AS A CHALLENGE BUT ALSO AN OPPORTUNITY TO EMBRACE. WE NEED TO STOP RELYING ON FUEL IN SIERRA LEONE AND START LOOKING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE. THAT IS WHY I BUILT THIS ELECTRIC VEHICLE SO THAT WE WILL STOP RELYING ON FUEL.
James Samba speaking to The African Dream
He told The African Dream that his electric vehicle is just a prototype version. He is looking forward to starting mass production of electric cars in Sierra Leone if he gets the right support. He says financial and technical support has been a challenge in what he’s doing. The 20-year-old calls on the government, NGOs and individuals to step in and support his vision.
This is not James’ first innovation. In January 2022, he developed a solar powered wheelchair for persons with disability. He is also the Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Wanjama Innovatives, an innovation company he founded to bring innovative ideas to life. He won the 2021 Southern Region Social Good Summit Price of Le 10,000,000 ($880). He is celebrated by many fo his outstanding problem solving innovations and inventions and is seen as one of Sierra Leone’s prospects.
For more information
Contact James Samba on +232 79 555091