How business incubation facility helped student build environmentally-friendly robot

Gad Nishimwe, a Civil Engineering student at INES-Ruhengeri

By leveraging a business incubation centre, Gad Nishimwe, a Civil Engineering University student from INES Ruhengeri has developed an environmentally friendly robot dubbed “G-robot” that uses hydraulic pressure for lifting heavy loads, excavating and leveling land.

During a recent summer school on entrepreneurship and job creation for university students, he was among the top three winners who got awards from a prototypes-design-competition that had brought together 30 students from Rwanda, Germany and Ghana.

The robot, he explained, can be used in sectors such as construction, mining sector, industries, transport and logistics, emergencies during car accidents among other areas that require lifting of heavy loads.

“I thought of developing this robot as an innovative way that eases work in engineering. Again my robot does not produce any emissions polluting the air as it uses water and solar energy. Another uniqueness with my robot is that it uses three systems all oriented to hydraulic pressure,”

 “These are the mechanical system, manual system and an android system which uses mobile phones to control the robot’s operations. This means if one system fails you can choose to use another one,” he explained.

The robot relies on a solar system which powers the mechanical system used to operate the hydraulic functions.

With the manual system, one has to use the pulley that transfers its energy into the water to get hydraulic pressure

The android operating system is also solar-powered.

“In construction, engineers use different machines; some in lifting heavy things, another in leveling land and the other in excavating. But my Robot is affordable and efficient since it combines three expensive machines into one device using water,” he said.

While the one he designed combines functions of three machines at once which is cheaper, the young innovator said that one machine on the market using fuel that can lift between 10 tonnes and 15 tonnes costs between $100,000 and $500,000  which is quite expensive.

 Nishimwe explained that the current robot prototype can lift up to ten Kilogrammes.

“When I have adequate financial capacity, I plan on developing one that can lift between 500 Kg and five Tonnes. That could cost me between Rwf30 million and Rwf90 million. To be developed in the industry we need financial support since I do not have financial capacity on my own,” he said.

Promoting practice-oriented entrepreneurship education

According to Dr Fabien Hagenimana, the Vice-Chancellor of INES-Ruhengeri, business incubation centres at universities are needed to facilitate students in their entrepreneurship journey.

He said that many students or graduates develop ideas that can be turned into businesses but end up failing due to lack of incubation.

The incubation centre, he said trains the students on how to turn ideas, prototypes into viable business projects and thereby create their own jobs. He added that linking them to stakeholders, financiers and banks could ease the implementation of the ideas.

 “This is important because when students are not incubated they end up failing. For instance, out of 100 students only 10 can come up with real viable business yet 90 per cent of them have ideas that can be turned into viable projects. That is why we organize career every year where students showcase their potential on what they can do on the labour market,” he noted.

Rwanda is keen on addressing unemployment especially among the youth and with government target to create 1.5 million jobs by 2024, Hagenimana said this cannot be achieved if youth do not have adequate insights on job creation and entrepreneurship.

The entrepreneurship promotion summer school in which G-robot was developed was organized under African German Entrepreneurship Academy (AGEA) to facilitate students in their entrepreneurship journey and thereby contributes to the improved employability of graduates through a high level of practice orientation.

The theme for this year was “Promoting practice-oriented entrepreneurship education at Universities”.

Nishimwe (left) was among the top three winners who received awards through a prototypes design competition.

The joint initiative was developed by the International SEPT Program of Leipzig University in cooperation with its partners in Africa for entrepreneurship promotion activities especially business incubator establishment as well as vibrant business linkages.

The program is a research and training program dedicated to practical experience in the management and promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) worldwide.

The aim is to promote cutting-edge entrepreneurship education in Africa as well as the establishment of practice-oriented cooperation with start-ups and businesses

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