Interview by Kashindi Ausiku posted on 10 April 2021

Simon Petrus (24):  SP
Kashindi Ausiku: KA

KA: What is your favourite song?

SP: I prefer listening to local music, mostly to Ndilimani songs

KA: Tell us more about yourself, your family, where did you grow up, went to primary school, secondary school and vocational training

SP: I’m so happy to get this opportunity to tell nothing, but the truth about my scientific history, firstly I would like to tell a story about myself,
I’m a boy in a family of four boys and five girls, I’m living with my mom and two sisters one brother, I went for my primary school at Helao
Nafidi Combined school in Okongo Constituency, Ohangwena region were I started from Grade 2 till Grade 10. After I passed my grade 10, I
moved to Dr Abraham Iyambo were I completed my grade 12, unfortunately I did not meet the requirements to be admitted to institutions of
higher learnings like Nust, UNAM and others. I was just at home at Oshiti Oshiwa village and one day a journalist from New Era wrote an
article about my plight (https://neweralive.na/posts/sad-tale-of-a-talented-inventor) which was published on 5th of May 2017.  It was
through this article that I was informed that the Founding President, Dr. Sam Nujoma has read the article and wanted my talent to be
rescued by given an opportunity to enrol for formal training in the field of electronics.  Efforts were made for me to get a sponsor and I was
very fortunate that a company called Erongo Marine Enterprises (Pty) Ltd was approached and made a commitment to pay for my studies
through their corporate social responsibility (CSR). I enrolled in February 2018 at the Windhoek Vocational Training Centre to do a diploma
in electronic engineering for three years. Their sponsorship covered everything and I was really humbled and feel privileged to receive this
kind of assistance because I was just staying at home because my parents cannot afford to send me for training.

KA: I read that you invented  a free call SIM-less telephone that  operates wirelessly to facilitate communication at your village.  How did you come up with this interesting project and do you still have it?

SP: In 2016 there was an article that was widely read about a telephone that I invented that call without airtime/credit. This was a secret project
that I did in 2015 with the intention to help people from my village to communicate easily because it was hard that time to find people who own
mobile phones in order to communicate with one another. The main aim was  to share information about emergency situations and just to enable the villagers  to interact and communicate using this telephone by calling those who have mobile phones.

This project that time helped about 80% of the community because only few individuals were having mobile phones. It was able to
call all types of cell-phones that were connected to  MTC and Telecom networks. So I helped my community with this type of telephone.  I was using Tassenberg wine card boxes to assemble  the telephone. Unfortunately this telephone that was able to communicate with both MTC and TN Mobiles is no longer operational but I do have another version that only communicate with those who have TN mobile phones.

I would also like to say something about my academic like. I have been a slow learner since my childhood and always I used to come late to school
because before I come to school, first I have to fix or repair something. At school I have been good at science  but not that good in maths and
when I came to the vocational school I was doing very well in practical and science subjects but Maths was giving me trouble.

KA: What are you currently doing and what do you want to do during the next 5 years?

SP: I’m currently doing my job attachment at Namwater in Windhoek, which is an opportunity for me to get more practical experience and knowledge in order to contribute to the technical development of my country especially in rural areas. I really want to develop something that can provide sufficient cell-phone network in rural areas in the next 5 years.

KA: If you have enough money to do what you want to do, what is it that you want do as a project?

SP: If I happen to get someone who can assist me financially I would like to develop mobile  phone network booster that will allow you to be
access coverage network at places where there is no sufficient network, in fact I made one already which I use when I go to the village).

KA: What message do you have for the general public and the youth of Namibia?

SP: I would like to tell the nation that  we should help those that need assistance especially those that are trying to help the country realising
its vision.

And to the Namibian youth I would like to say the right time to do something in your life is now, Namibian youth must emulate positive
examples from Western and Asian countries in as far as  technological advancement is concerned.

KA: Thanks Simon for your time and insight, it was a great pleasure interacting with you and I wish you the best in your future endeavours.

Photo Credit: Getty Images and New Era Newspaper