26-year-old Anthony Muthungu was the name on everyone’s lips in 2018. He founded Totosci– a mobile school that moves around different institutions in the low-income settlements training children in ICT and technology. At the inception of this idea, Huawei
expressed interest and partnered with Anthony to make this dream a reality. With about 30 incredibly talented trainers and engineers, and 158 kids on the program, Anthony’s career is on an upward trajectory. “Investing in people is better than investing in products,” he says, clearly on a path of offering the promise of so much to so many.
His exceptional innovation – the Intelligent Smart Cane, sparked a buzz during the Nairobi Innovation Week in March. The cane is designed for the visually impaired, but what makes it especially peculiar and unconventional is that it is fitted with proximity sensors and also allows the user to send distress signals to the caregiver. Muthungu proceeded to represent Kenya in the Advancing Health Care Innovation in Africa Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. What’s even more astounding is that the Intelligent Smart Cane is just one among over twenty innovations that Muthungu has to his name.
“My first innovation was a biogas system that had enough power to light the whole house. I was 13 at the time, driven by sheer curiosity and fun,” Anthony shares. He went on to create several other innovations, including a Smart Water Meter, remote-controlled lamp
and even a Smart Flooding System, to name a few. Anthony agrees that technology should offer a solution to an existing problem. As such, all his innovations are geared towards this and to inevitably transform lives. The Smart Flooding System, for instance, was created
for flood-prone areas. The device notifies the residents when floods are imminent so that they can take the necessary precautions.
Much as he considers his skills inborn, for Anthony, like any other innovator, the process of innovating is gradual, and you cannot make an end-run, Ideas don’t come fully formed,
they slowly come to life through the creation process, he says.
Anthony not only creates his own innovations but also tests the suitability of already existing technologies that are not in the market yet. “People generally avoid taking risks on things they are unsure of, and this gives me an upper hand. I test and prove theories– even for existing technologies– and share the findings on my social media platforms for anyone who would want to take it up,” he points out.
According to Anthony, innovators in Kenya have the skills but lack the necessary resources to facilitate their innovations. For the Intelligent Smart Cane, he shares that he had to
use a device from his DVD player, to make it functional, seeing as many of the materials needed are not locally available. And despite the brilliance of the innovations, unfortunately very few are taken up by the necessary bodies for further development and implementation.
There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, however, after the government created The White Box– a government-sponsored innovation hub, where people can submit their innovations and ideas to improve government service delivery. Anthony has not lost a minute to take advantage of this opportunity.
Aren’t you just a little happier and more encouraged after reading Muthungu’s story? For more on our Enterprising Millennials series, meet Jacqueline Macharia, a software developer and alumnus of the Andela Fellowship.