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Meet the Ethiopian innovation guru who built his own car

Avatar: Nigist Berta
Nigist Berta August 19, 2021
City: Addis AbabaTechBusiness
Meet the Ethiopian innovation guru who built his own car

Shihab Suleiman, a 24-year-old second-year computer studies student at Addis Ababa University, has built and designed a four-wheeled, multi-purpose car which he named “Titan”.

Titan is designed with a capacity of eight seats, specifically for city transportation, recreation, and tourism. According to Shihab, he aims to launch a car developing company producing as many cars as needed with the brand.

"It will not be long before you see a Titan service on the streets of Addis Ababa," says Shihab, who is currently working on five separate creative projects. 

Alongside being a student and with several awards already to his name, Shihab is the founder of a company called “I Star”. 

His interest in innovation and technology began early when he was an elementary student. “Physics was my favorite subject. I always scored high,” he says.  Currently, he says he is focusing on electronics, automotive, robotics, artificial intelligence, space, and the Internet.

“My first invention was an electric oven,” says Shihab. “I have also made a baking machine, a door lock with a password, and a smart coffee cup holder. I have brought all of these designs to market” he added.

In recognition for his creative work, Shihab received awards from Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, after he won an innovation competition around robotics.

Shihab is ambitious to succeed. When he was a freshman student, he designed a phone and sent it to China in search of an investor who could assist him to assemble it in Ethiopia. The fact that he could not find anyone did not dent his entrepreneurial drive. 

“Titan is the name of Saturn's moon. I use this name because I love the planet Saturn,” he says on the name of his car. Without a trace of shyness,  he believes that one day the name Titan will be synonymous with car-making.

 

“I have a dream to build the first Ethiopian-made car, now I am on the way. In the near future my innovation will help my country gain foreign currency,” he says.

Asked what raw materials he will use to build Titan,  he explains that the engine needed for the car could not be produced locally. However, the chassis and other parts will be made from local resources.

"Titan is made from locally sourced materials; aluminum, fiber mica, and steel are sourced from here. I made the chassis and the car body locally."  He adds that the cost for producing the entire car was 600,000 Ethiopian Birr and he got the money from relatives and friends' support.

Shihab said that the first person to be boarded to his new car when he finished building Titan was his brother, who toured the city to check that the car was working properly. They also made sure that the car was qualified for the service.

Shihab, who said the design of the car is between Bajaj and a truck, said "we are planning to solve some problems when designing Titan". He listed that the main key solution that the car will bring is solving the transport problems in the country, especially in Addis Ababa.

Although there are innovations in various fields in Ethiopia, Shihab says there are problems with the integration of the market, in which many innovators fail due to a lack of actual market knowledge in the country.

"I want to have our own brand car in our country. I am working on technology and five innovations – I want the world to benefit, ” sadeclaresid Shihab, who is gaining a lot of good feedback and notice due to his inventions.

He also called on other young people of his age to contribute to the development of their country by doing what they love.

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A PIECE BYNigist Berta

Nigist is working as a reporter and content creator at Addis Zeybe to explore her passion for storytelling. She has Bsc. in medical laboratories & BA in media and Communications.