Richard Kwarteng, 32, was recognized by the President of Ghana for his invention. He hopes it will reach every country in Africa.
As the pandemic rages on across the world, more and more people are starting to recognize the importance of basic hygiene practices such as washing your hands. In places where access to water is not as easy as it is in others, conserving water while also maintaining hygiene poses a challenge. In the African nation of Ghana, one man has come up with the solution. 32-year-old Richard Kwarteng's solar-powered handwashing station is exactly what the country needs in order to conserve water and simultaneously ensure hygiene. Since first posting a video of the invention online, it has gone viral, CNN reports.
Richard, a leather shoemaker who lives in the Ashanti region's capital city, Kumasi, first thought of the idea when he stared at a recycling barrel. He shared, "My brother (Jude Osei) and I decided we would create a basin to encourage regular hand-washing etiquette." Together, they came up with the ingenious solar-powered hand-washing basin. It is one of the first of its kind in Ghana and encourages folks to follow handwashing guidelines set by both the World Health Organization as well as the United States Centers for Disease Control. Equipped with a sensor and a timer, the basin first dispenses soapy water then beeps for 25 seconds (the amount of time one must wash their hands in order to kill the virus). After 25 seconds are up, the basin dispenses just enough water to rinse your hands off. In one "charge," the machine can wash the hands of 150 individuals.
It was developed just as Ghana went into a national lockdown. With less than 48 hours to go, Richard and his team gathered scrap materials so they could build the handwashing station. Heading to a local market, they purchased a sink, a faucet, a motherboard, a solar panel, a sensor, and an alarm. In five short days and with the help of an electrician friend, Richard and his brother were able to complete the project. The invention has been named Solar Wash. It was certified by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) in four days (in comparison to the 21 days it usually takes to complete the procedure) and was quickly made available for commercial use.
👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾In 48 hours, shoemaker Richard Kwarteng & his brother Jude Osei gathered supplies & turned an old recycled metal barrel into a solar-powered, hand-washing basin w/a 25 sec timer for his neighborhood in Ghana 🇬🇭🇬🇭🇬🇭 #BlackExcellence https://t.co/s5juRgqNbw— ure_too_close (@ure_too_close) June 7, 2020
For his creative thinking and technical abilities, Richard was endorsed by the President of Ghana Nana Akuffu-Addo and other global bodies such as the United Nations. The President affirmed in an address to the nation in early April, "The Ghanaian sense of enterprise and innovation is beginning to be felt." The now-famous inventor hopes he is able to stop the spread by not just making the invention available in his own country, but throughout the continent of Africa as well. "I pray this pandemic will go away and there are better days ahead," he said. "We hope this will help people to practice normal hand-washing etiquette and we are very grateful for everyone's support." At present, there are 4,000 active cases of Coronavirus in Ghana. Across Africa, the number of cases has skyrocketed to over 53,000 people. Richard's invention is one of the ways that communities are trying to stop the spread of the disease.