By: Ludorf Iyambo
Seven years after creating a cardless cell phone, and garnering global fame, Simon Petrus says he is still at home trying to find a job and earn money to fund his project and make a living.
The young inventor’s dream of contributing to Namibia’s telecommunication technology future was dashed after MTC’s promise of a scholarship fell through when he failed grade 12.
Petrus further says his invention is still working but is not allowed to operate by the communication regulatory authority of Namibia (CRAN) as the telecommunication system does not register it.
Petrus said the prototype product is still available, and individual companies have been promising to assist the gadget operate on its own, but so far, no one has come on board.
He narrates that some services provided that are entirely related to the product are a “massive threat to them.”
“I am not happy with how my prototype was treated by experts, as so no individual company came through and took the project to a certain stage. I expected this project to be somewhere in the world. I anticipated by now Namibians to use a phone without a SIM card,” said Petrus.
At this point and time, I think if I get a person or a company that is very interested in my idea, I can take it far.
During the interview with The Villager, Petrus said when he saw people talking about the fourth industrial revolution in Namibia, it hurt him as he kept getting promises that were never fulfilled.
“What is the point of me introducing ideas to the nation, and nothing is coming on the board? Maybe I should keep inventing my project here and there using their network, do whatever I want and understand because doing something legal and bringing it to the public, I think, is not helping,” said Petrus.
When approached for comment, CRAN CEO Emilia Nghikembua stated, “CRAN has not received any application for the use of radio frequency or Type Approval certification from Mr Simon Petrus. He is encouraged to contact CRAN for assistance and information in this regard.”
Simon Petrus created a mobile phone that works with radio frequencies; no sim card nor airtime credit is required. According to Petrus, calls can be made to anyone, anywhere, without interruptions, as long as they are done in an area with radio frequency.
Petrus says in September 2016, the telecommunication giant MTC offered to become his benefactor for a scholarship.
He said that MTC Chief Human Capital and corporate affairs officer Tim Ekandjo presented a letter to him in which the accompany agreed to fund his studies towards a technology degree of his choice upon completing his high school.
In 2016, Ekandjo said that MTC does not usually fund learners instantly from grade 12; however, in Petrus’ case, the company was proud to make an exception and be associated with and sponsor the young man who proved to possess the ability to enhance his future of telecommunications technology to greater heights.
All this did not come to fulfilment as Petrus did not make it to university as he failed grade 12.
MTC spokesperson John Ekongo said that he was unaware whether Petrus had an agreement with the company regarding the project.
“I only read it in the newspaper. Maybe Simon should tell you who he had spoken with at MTC.”
When questioned if he was thinking of living in Namibia or Africa to venture his knowledge into the world, Petrus said, since childhood, he wanted to invent something that would not go out of Africa until it was known worldwide.
“I prefer Africa as the best place ever to be, so there’s no point in me going out if I have all the knowledge I can use to do anything. I saw many African inventors who went missing after they projected their ideas to the world. The little I have is what I can use until I get the right person to boost me up and take me on the right path.”
The invention, which took two years for him to complete (2015-2016), was put together using scraps of old television and mobile phones and required over $2,000 in funding from his unemployed parents, who sacrificed to ensure their son’s project was successful.
Besides the sim-less phone, Petrus’ invention is a whole unit comprising the working radio, television, light bulb, a fan, and a socket.
According to Petrus, the phone is not his first invention. He says he invented a helicopter in 2012 and an exploding bomb after watching Youtube tutorials; the latter landed him in hospital.
In 2016, the young man won first place at a competition for young innovators in Namibia to create a machine that doubles as a seed drier and a cooler.