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Covid-19 constraints spark innovation – The Namibian


With no capital, just an idea and a few tools, Erastus Muyenga built a mahangu milling machine in the backyard of his uncle’s house a month ago.

“Namibians don’t believe that there are people who can invent things, and those who can invent have no financial means,” he says.

Muyenga was born at Sabiyu in the Kavango East region.

He was raised on a farm in the Grootfontein area by his parents, who were farmworkers.

He has acquired most of his skills, especially in construction, from his father, which have landed him jobs in the industry.

Muyenga has travelled to many parts of northern Namibia until recently.

“All concrete work for the many roads, such as the Grootfontein circle, the Okamatapati Bridge, the Helao Nafidi library … I did that. I even helped many vocational training students to qualify,” the self-trained former construction concrete mixer says.

During the most recent travel ban in July, tired of waiting for calls for construction works at other towns, Muyenga approached his uncle to use his tools to create a mahangu milling machine, which is usually imported from South Africa and Asia.

“We bought the parts with our savings and started working on it. With Covid-19, we cannot move around too much. We don’t have all the tools, and we use other people’s workshops – especially to bend the iron. We are getting there,” he says.

They have so far worked on three machines, but have not tested them out because they need generators, which are normally ordered from South Africa.

“We can produce many things in Namibia, like this machine we have manufactured in our backyard. These ones are diesel-operated, because we are targeting the rural clientele. We will later work on a machine that operates with electricity,” he says.

Muyenga says being innovative does not always require formal education, but determination and will.

He is optimistic that their machines, once completed, would help many communal farmers to save time and energy on processing their produce.

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