Durban - There was a new level of confidence in Grade 12 pupil Simon Petrus’s voice when interviewed this week.
In just a few days he has become known as “the kid who created the phone that requires no airtime”.
While he still marvels at his creation, he is eager to start work on other projects that “would make a difference in the world”.
Simon, a pupil at Abraham Iyambo Senior Secondary in Namibia, said his teachers and friends had sung his praises the entire week and his phone was ringing with calls from many influential companies and the media wanting to speak to him.
The 20-year-old’s airtime-free phone is nowhere close to conventional cellphones, but does a better job.
The handset uses radio frequencies to make calls via power supplied through a radiator. That’s not all, the phone, made with spare parts from old phones and a television set, allows for charging, recording and listening to music.
Simon said he knew when he started this invention two years ago that it was going to make an impact.
He named the phone Zuma’s NCP (non-creditable phone) and quickly chirps: “I know that is the name of your president. It is also my nickname.
“As long as there is a signal, people can make calls for free to anywhere in Namibia. My friends enjoy making calls and I feel happy to allow them that privilege. We have not tried making calls overseas but I am sure that with enough determination it can be possible.
“The phone requires little network and works through radio waves. It works like a radio with the phone numbers saved in channels. Unfortunately, it cannot fit in my pocket because it is heavy, but, hey, it gets the job done.
“I feel so good knowing that my invention is changing lives and having my story told across the world is humbling.”
He said it cost 2 000 Namibian dollars (R2 000) to produce, which his parents gave him.
Simon’s love for electronics started when he was 9 years old. He remembers making an adapter that would beep if weapons were detected.
Since then, he said, he had been experimenting with all sorts of electrical stuff that had helped grow his talent.
The phone has won first place in the regional leg of the NamPower schools competition. He won a gold medal last year for a two-in-one seed drier and cooler machine he invented.
Simon wants to study to become an electrical engineer. He has six sisters and four brothers.
He said he was contacted by a government company who wanted to meet next week.
“I am not sure why they want to meet but I am optimistic,” he said.
Simon said he planned on building a power station that would generate electricity to a village or town.
“This has been a lifelong dream of mine especially coming from a poor community. I have this talent and want to use it for good. I encourage others to also use their talent to invent something that will help their people. Small steps can lead to great things,” he said.
Simon enjoys playing soccer with friends and reading novels.