Dare To Innovate: Gambian Man Builds Generator Engine Boat

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Abdou's generator-engined boat is ready and sets for sailing, with the boat builder giving residents at the exquisite Jerreh Camp in Niumi Sitanunku a test cruise of the speed boat in sunny weather.

By: Foday Manneh

46-year-old Abdou Cham is a tech genius who rose to fulfill a challenge after an argument with a friend over his ability to build an engine-powered boat.

The Dippa Kunda-born resident now lives in Albreda in the Niumi district of the Gambia’s North Bank Region, where meandering streams surround lushly green islands of the river Gambia at the very edge of the Atlantic Ocean nearby.

Abdou’s generator-engined boat is ready and set for sailing, with the boat builder giving residents at the exquisite Jerreh Camp in Niumi Sitanunku a test cruise of the speed boat in sunny weather.

46-year-old Abdou Cham

Abou started this innovation in 2020 and completed it two years later. And despite being driven by his passion, self-belief, and commitment, Abdou says he got motivated to build the boat after a debate with a stranger.

This came into effect when the young man, who has no experience in boat building, tried to sail his motorbike in the waters to transform it into a jet-drive boat.

“I later argued with a friend when I told him that I am naturally gifted and can transform my motorcycle into a speed boat for crossing,” Abdou told The Alkamba Times.

However, the heavy-looking motorcycle bought by Abdou a few years ago could not meet his expectations, inspiring him to try another time.

“The man denied my ability to do it and even placed a D50,000 prize on the challenge. Since I could not succeed, I decided to go out and build a boat. I promised myself I would do it and did exactly that,” he added.

Abdou is a trained welder who needs more resources to accomplish this aim. But, thanks to some leftover materials from a customer’s order, he got closer to this innovative milestone.

The building of the engined-generator boat by a man who has never built a ship before brings many questions, such as safety and reliability, but Abdou says his boat is good to go.

“The boat can carry 3 to 4 people at a go. It has four gears and is made in a way that makes it unsinkable during emergencies. It is very safe, fast, and reliable,” Cham assured.

“I have tested it, and it goes fast and safe. However, it consumes fuel, and that’s not on a large scale,” he added.

The Dippa Kunda man who trained over 13 apprentices at his welding workshop says he wants to build essential machinery, including helicopters, guns, and other valuable vehicles.

“If I am given the necessary support, I believe in myself and promise to invent an innovation like this every year. First, however, I need support to invest in this work,” Cham appealed.

Abdou had no formal education but attended Arabic school and was later enrolled in a vocational training center where he studied welding, design, and basic English.

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