Get Frank’s Malawian solar car rolling!
- By: Michelle Mollatt
- Short URL: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/frank-solar-car
Frank is a man with a plan. He's Malawian, living and working in Mzuzu, in northern Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world.
Against all odds, Frank has managed to finish both primary and secondary school, and even to put himself through college. He studied electromechanical engineering at the University of Malawi’s Polytechnic college, majoring in motor vehicle engineering.
I met him whilst having the car I drive serviced at the garage where he works. He was very enterprising and said, “Do you want to see the solar car we are building back here?”. Not exactly something you expect to hear every day on the streets of Malawi.
He then showed me the little car he’s literally built from scrap metal pieces and junk. Frank is a classic Malawian – wonderfully friendly and enthusiastic. He’s been working on the car after work, over the past 6 years. He plans to run the small car as Malawi’s first solar powered mini-public transport vehicle. He's passionate about clean power and cheap public transport.
He has worked on all the electrics for the car, has got the drive shaft working, as well as all the wiring for the lights and sounds. It has space for 2 passengers and their goods, and is about the size of a golf car. But it still needs a lot of work to get it on the road.
Thanks for reading this and for joining me in Frank's journey for the planet, people, power and place!
UPDATE (JUNE 2018):
Greetings solar supporters!
So just an update on the progress of Frank’s solar car mission.
We’ve decided to use the money raised for this campaign in portions as and when supporters donate. Given the nature of the project, it can be done piece by piece, so we thought it would be good to put the first part of money raised so far to use straight away.
I sent Frank the money via cellphone on one of Malawi’s local providers, TNM (Mpamba). This is yet another ingenuity with technology that has proven itself and in fact leapfrogged in Africa – mobile money sending and receiving is the lifeline for millions of Africans and their diaspora.
With the portion raised so far, Frank bought a crossbar and wishbones at a local panel beaters and installed them on his solar car. These pieces are for attaching to the wheels and hub, so are essential for the operation of the car. You can see the extra pictures to show these pieces.
In fact, Frank has also been keeping me on my toes, by checking up on me and my updates to this site. His enthusiasm and interest is wonderfully encouraging and endearing!
We look forward to bringing you more updates as this project rolls on.
And now an update from July – Sept 2018:
Hello Solar supporters,
So we have some great boosting news. Frank met someone a few months back who donated the large 12 volt solar panel needed for the top of the car...
He used the next chunk of funds from this fundraising page to buy the following:
The car has had a nice lick of paint as well. It is almost ready for its test drive. Frank sent me a video of the wheels turning on Whatsapp – so it definitely is rolling – albeit not quite on the road and speeding just yet!
Also, Frank and his solar car were featured on the news on one of the local Malawian channels called Times Tv.
And to top all of this, Frank has been selected as a finalist for some Innovation awards in South Africa, so he will be attending the gala event in October. Very happy and proud of him.
So the sky is literally the limit!
UPDATE (NOV 2018)
Frank is almost ready to get the car on the road, and is just waiting to install some back brakes!
Here is his test drive video:
Thanks again for your support!
- Jun 22, 2018 - R 156.32
- "Good luck! It looks fantastic!" - Em
- Apr 18, 2018 - R 102.82
- "Keep going Frank!" - Charlotte Nicklin
- Apr 04, 2018 - USD $ 22.26
- "Go Frank!" - Anonymous
- Mar 27, 2018 - R 510.00
- "keep living the green dream!" - Anonymous