The spirit of innovation and creativity is sweeping across Africa.
A Kenyan woman has invented a machine that literally draws water out of thin air. Beth Koigi, from Kiambu County in the central province of Kenya, calls her machine Majik Water.
Majik is a compound word she derived from Maji, a Swahili word for water, and K from Kuna meaning harvest.
Beth was inspired to start thinking outside the box to deal with acute water shortages when draught hit eastern and southern African regions in 2016. “Having no water at all is worse than just having unpurified water, so I started thinking about a way.“
Beth describes herself as a social entrepreneur. She graduated from Chuka University and the University of Nairobi with bachelor’s and master’s degrees respectively, in project planning and management.
While on a short course in the United States, Beth met two other like-minded women, Anastasia Kaschenko an environmental scientist, and British economist Clare Sewell. They teamed up to birth the Majik Water company.
They explain how the concept behind the technology: “There’s six times more water in the air than in all the rivers in the world. With every 1 Fahrenheit increase in temperature, water begins to evaporate on the ground but increases by about 4% in the atmosphere, and that’s water that’s not being tapped”.
The machine works by using desiccants like silica gels which trap water molecules and releases them when heated is applied to it.
The company says its goal is to “create a new source of affordable, clean drinking water for water-scarce communities”.
Majik Water machines can produce up to 500L of clean uncontaminated water per day. The major cost component is the power source to heat the gels which may be either solar, national grid or power generators.
“If you have air”, Beth says, “you can have drinking water”.
Beth has received numerous awards for her innovation including being recently shortlisted for the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa prize.