Source: Youtube/THNKR

What ever became of African child prodigy Kelvin Doe?

At just 13 years old he built a radio station in Sierra Leone from junk he found at the dump, but where is the young genius now?

As a preteen Kelvin built his own radio station from discarded junk

At just 13 years old, Kelvin Doe was the MacGyver Jr. of Sierra Leone. Kelvin invented batteries, an FM transmitter (and a generator to power it), an amplifier, a three-channel mixer and a microphone receiver. All this by using trash salvaged from the dump. As a preteen he began to build his own radio station from discarded metal, cargo boxes and scrap cables. He would broadcast news, his favourite tunes, and he even took up DJ-ing under the name "DJ Focus". But where is this bright young engineer now?

By 15 years of age Kelvin had attracted the attention of MITSource: Facebook/BrightVibesAfrica

Kelvin’s latest inventions include an emergency shoe charger and a device to track lost phones

These days, 21-year-old Kelvin Doe runs his own company called KDoe-Tech Inc. and also founded The Kelvin Doe Foundation. He is constantly working on new gadgets and shares them on his Twitter account. His latest inventions include an emergency shoe charger and a device to help track lost mobile phones.

At first his family chastised him for spending time at the dump and collecting trash, but the budding inventor never lost heart and continued to focus on his engineering skills. He perfected batteries to power lights in local homes, and he fixed all of his friends’ electrical devices.

The young inventor first emerged as a finalist of GMin’s Innovate Salone Idea Competition with a generator made with soda, acid and metal, and held together with electrical tape. That competition led him to meet David Sengeh at a summer camp organised and run by Innovate Salon. Sengeh is a MIT Ph.D. student.

Sengeh invited Kelvin to the MIT Visiting Practitioner’s Program, as the youngest person to ever participate. His accomplishments and amazing experience were documented and soon went viral.

Afterwards, Kelvin spoke on TEDxTeen in 2012 (see below) and told his story to undergraduate engineering students at Harvard College.

In May of 2013, Doe’s dream came true. He signed a $100,000 solar project agreement with Canadian High-Speed WiFi Service Provider. Now he is the CEO of his own company. This one young man with vision made a big difference to a small town in Sierra Leone. Check out Kelvin’s Facebook Page.

Source: InterestingEngineering

“I love inventing” – Kelvin Doe Kelvin’s story has since gone viral, inspiring millions and having been viewed by more than 10 million people. Subsequently, Kelvin has guest-lectured to undergraduates at Harvard, and presented a talk at TEDxTeen in 2013, as highlighted in the video above. Source: Youtube/THNKR

Kelvin Doe: repected African inventor

Kelvin Doe is now one of the most respected young African inventors. He has met various world leaders, including former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo. He recently concluded his Innovation Catalyst Tour in Ghana – a 14-day tour of Ghana, where he spoke at 10 universities and visited some of the top Ghanaian tech startups.

Presidential advisor Naasu Fofanah says somewhat fondly of Doe: “You can have kids with all sorts of technologies but they are out there doing drugs, being rogues. But here is a kid who has been going to the garbage and basically messing his mother’s very tiny living room with all sort of dirt.” 

But it’s fair to say that everyone in Sierra Leone is proud of the young man who spent his days at the dump collecting other people’s trash to make his world, and that of others, a better place.

Kelvin can still be found at the dump looking for useful parts for his latest inventions.
One man’s waste is another man’s inspiration Kelvin can still be found at the dump looking for useful parts for his latest inventions. Source: Youtube/THNKR


Help to empower young innovators to take ownership of the problems in their communities. Help challenge youth to design solutions and to become thought leaders and game-changers that their countries need. Your donations will support youth in Sierra Leone, Kenya and South Africa to procure local materials, which they will use to develop and test their innovations in their local communities.

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