Growing up in Gambia, a country in West Africa, Mohammed Njie ’21 was among the lucky 48% of people with access to electricity. Power outages were common. He accounted for them when planning his day. Would he have to study by candlelight or would there be running water when it was time to shower? Even with these challenges, he was still far more fortunate than the 52% of people without any access to power.
Mohammed’s experience inspired him to seek out the Hilltop with a bold idea: bring reliable access to energy in Gambia. Therefore, while earning a B.S. in electrical engineering at SMU, Mohammed also developed a solar power pilot program to electrify the Tintinto Primary and Secondary School in Gambia, launched Janta Energy – a social enterprise that seeks to bring clean, reliable energy to Africa – and built a partnership with the Gambian government.
“Not only am I doing this to solve a problem,” says Mohammed, “but I also want to be an inspiration to the young Gambians to show them that they can bring solutions to some of the problems that we face.”
SMU’s Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity and SMU’s Big iDeas competition provided the resources to bring Mohammed’s vision to life. Through collaborations with fellow SMU students in the program, he continued to develop and fund an innovative STEM education platform for the school he electrified almost two years ago.
For the 936 students at Tintino, Mohammed’s efforts signified more than access to electricity. They gained hope, the ability to study after dark and increased test scores.
Mohammed will return to Tintino with his SMU collaborator, Wilkie Stevenson (pictured above right), to implement the STEM Up Phase II platform, providing world-class, open-source materials, media and interactive games that teachers can share with their students.
“Now instead of just using outdated books, they’ll have access to educational content that kids who are going to school in the U.S. have,” he says.
SMU Giving Day funded programs in Mohammed’s story include SMU’s Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity and the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Big iDeas competition.