Jessica Matthews, a 25 year old Nigerian psychology and economics graduate based in the United States is celebrated by the federal government for inventing electricity generating football
| By Vincent Nzemeke | Sep. 2, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
TO address her as an overnight celebrity might sound flattering but that is actually the best way to describe Jessica Matthews, the 25 year-old Nigerian who rose from obscurity into national prominence through her invention. Matthews, who is based in the United States of America, is the brain behind SOCCKET, the electricity generating football which was unveiled at the presidential villa in Abuja last week.
The new invention which uses kinetic energy can generate three hours of electricity after 30 minutes of play. It can also store power for 72 hours. The electricity generated by the ball can be used as electricity source to power lighting points, charge mobile phones and power other household equipment.
Explaining how she came about the invention, Matthews who studied psychology and economy at Harvard University, USA, said she taught herself electrical and mechanical engineering because of her interest in the field. She said her motivation to invent the ball came when she attended a wedding in Nigeria and there was a sudden power outage.
“I was in Nigeria for my aunt’s wedding and we lost power all of a sudden. From that point, I started thinking about what I can do to change the situation. I was raised to seek a solution when there is a problem; to be as creative as you can and be open to different ways so that you can address the situation. I see many Nigerian kids playing football and I told myself that we can use the kinetic energy generated from football and use it to solve the electricity problem. If kinetic energy is used for windmill, why not the football?” She wondered.
Matthews said the major idea behind the invention was to get more out of something people love to do. “Nigerians are crazy about football but I told myself that we can get more out of it. These are the things we can use to bridge the gap between what is working and what is not working that we love so much in this country.”
Although the invention is still new in Nigeria, Matthews said it had already been accepted in the United States where it would be mass-produced and introduced into the Nigerian market very soon. “Right now, we have not started making them here, we are selling them in New York and we charge people a lot because it is New York. But by the time we mass produce them, we will begin to sell them in Nigeria and the price will be equivalent to what people pay for a solar inverter.”
For her feats, Matthews has been appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan as an entrepreneur ambassador for Nigeria. Jonathan, who was present at the unveiling ceremony congratulated Matthews for her innovativeness and described her as a role model to Nigerian youths and a proof of the quality of human resource available in the country. “This invention is useful as a major tool that can also be used to mobilise young Nigerians and encourage them to think more deeply.”
On his part, Olusegun Aganga, minister of trade and investment, who was also at the ceremony, said Mathews was an inspiration to every Nigerian, especially children and that the product is portrayed as made by a Nigerian for the world. “The product is actually versatile, it is not just about the electricity you see, you can use it to charge your mobile phones and fans, so there are so many things for which it can be used. We are also looking at the possibilities of manufacturing it in Nigeria and see how we can make it cheaper in this country.”
The minister added that as an ambassador, Matthews would promote the product around universities in Nigeria in order to inspire students to embrace entrepreneurship. “I am glad that Matthews has also agreed to be our ambassador in terms of promoting entrepreneurship in our universities. What we want to do is to bring successful entrepreneurs like Matthews to inspire the students and make them more creative so that they can also be employers of labour.’’