INTERVIEW: How We Developed First Electric Car In The Mediterrenean- Nigeria's Sodruldeen

INTERVIEW: How We Developed First Electric Car In The Mediterrenean- Nigeria's Sodruldeen

Sodruldeen Mustapha is a Nigerian Engineer. He joined the team that produced the first Electric Car in the Mediterranean.

The organization that produced the automobile, Gunsel completed its working prototype of Model B9. It was the first automotive company in the Mediterranean to unveil its Electric Vehicle design in 2016.

In this interview with TechMirror Magazine, he speaks on the project, what Africa Needs To Advance technologically and lots more. Excerpts below

Techmirror: How were you prepared for the breakthrough you have made in Tech?

Sodruldeen: Well, Its feels great to be a part of major innovation and breakthrough, but I still see a lot of work ahead to be done, Being a part of something big, I learned new skills from others and even learn a lot about myself.

Techmirror: Doing Technology as an African comes with some challenges, did you at any point try giving up?

Sodruldeen: Africa has the largest population of youths among the continents, the major challenge faced in Technology by Africans is the quality and cost of connectivity. Back home in Nigeria, I found it difficult keeping up with tech trends because I use up monthly subscriptions within a few days to a week and yet the quality isn't what is expected. I never thought of giving up at any moment in time as I know so well that the internet is a database of knowledge and as the saying goes that the day we stop learning is the day we die. I see knowledge not as a responsibility, but rather as a basic amenity needed to survive just like oxygen.

Techmirror: How did you get into the team that made the first electric vehicle?

Sodruldeen: The project was an initiative of Near East University, a University I attended for my Master's degree in Software Engineering, and by the way, it is not the first electric vehicle, but the first in the Mediterranean. Before leaving Nigeria, I had my bachelor's degree in information technology from the Kebbi State University of science and technology and have since my second year started programming and making undergraduate students projects, also I worked with few software startups in Nigeria. These experiences helped me to key into the initiative by my university and gave me the privilege to apply to the company at an early R&D stage and we grew together till this very moment.

Techmirror: Did you feel pressurized at any point?

Sodruldeen: An estimated 1.2 Million man-hour by 109 engineers was spent on the project, we worked additional hours day and night including weekends to achieve this goal. Yes, there was pressure, a lot of pressure that pressure no longer meant a big deal, as we needed to meet up with tight deadlines. But through this, we worked as one family, we worked together, eat together and even lived together.

Techmirror: What motivated the project?

Sodruldeen: The project was a childhood dream of the initiator, the chairman and founder of the Near East University, as a part of the family business, he wants to have a automobile industry that will change the history of mobility. He is a man of large dreams and believes in youth. It is as a result of these that he brought together 109 brilliant young engineers and R&D specialists together to rewrite the history of mobility with the family name as a brand.

Techmirror: What role did your development in Nigeria play in your strides out of the Country?

Sodruldeen: I had my education up to a bachelor's degree in Nigeria. My Bachelor's degree in Information Technology was at the Kebbi State University of Science and Technology.

My knowledge at the University has a lot of roles to play in my stride out of Nigeria, as from my first day at the university, we were being thought by few expatriates from India along with other Nigerian lecturers whom the school has sent out of the country to acquire knowledge about Information technology at a different level. It was at the university I met my mentor, Engnr Abdullahi Yushua who took me in personally to tutor me programming, networking, basics of security and computer maintenance outside the curriculum.

That was my drive for furthering in the line of software development and made me seek to further my education in that path.

Techmirror: Nigeria and Africa is evolving, how soon do you See us using advanced technology like electric cars?

Sodruldeen: Nigeria is a blessed country, not just in terms of natural resources but also in terms of human resources. Youths represent about 70% of the country's population and they are doing great in all works of life. Even though we have the challenge of stable distribution and supply of electricity.

Contrary to what people think, an electric vehicle does not require a 24hours supply of electricity. Just the same way we can charge our mobile phones without a 24hours supply, we don't need a daily full charge to utilize an EV.

It may sound as a surprise to you that it is not only at charge stations that you can charge your EV, you can charge it with the normal home wall bracket used in charging your mobile phones and laptop, only that it takes longer hour while charging at home than at the charge stations.

Though the price of an EV might be a little bit on the high side, the maintenance is very cheap and the cost of charge is not as expensive as the PMS. Luckily the price of EV has been on a significant drop in the last few years. We have the education, the talents, and youths with the technical know-how, both at home and in the diaspora, but the government, first of all, have to come up with policies that will encourage the usage of an electric vehicle, a good example is by reducing tax on EV as against the internal Combustion engine vehicles.

To answer your question about how soon I see us using advanced technology like electric cars, we are already there, it is being used on the rich streets of Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Abuja already. We just need the right policies to encourage the not so rich Nigerians to be able to afford it.

Techmirror: Did you feel uncomfortable due to the fact that you and two others were the only Nigerians in the team?

Sodruldeen: We all came with the primary aim of furthering our education and getting more skills, It was a Turkish project and a lot of other nationals are not expected to be a big part of the team, it was indeed a privilege to be given the opportunity to be a part of the team. We were not treated any different, we worked together as one big family to achieve our dream and the dream of the project initiator. What I feel iis, we have investors in Nigeria that can finance such project back home in Nigeria, if we want more inclusion in innovations like this, we need to step up and make ours.

Techmirror: What can you say about Tech development in Africa and how can it be improved upon?

Sodruldeen: From my perspective, Africa is the new tech valley, most multinationals are either investing big in startups in Africa or exporting Africa talents to their continents. To improve on what we have currently, I think we need quality, stable and affordable connectivity in Africa. When I hear the word, Africa, I see opportunities, talents and bright minds, but it is sad we make and export these talents to other continents. The government is trying but should do more in terms of creating an enabling environment for startups to grow.

Techmirror: Do you plan to stay in Africa to impact the continent with what you have learnt?

Sodruldeen: With the right opportunity, absolutely yes. Africa is a blessed continent, I am ready to serve my continent when called upon, I have a strong belief in Africa as a continent. Nobody will develop us if we don't develop ourselves, Europeans developed Europe and Americans developed America. Africans need to sit up and develop Africa to the Africa of our dream.

Techmirror: What is your biggest motivation?

Sodruldeen: My family, they are my biggest motivation. Each phase has different motivations but what motivates me far beyond any other is to currently become a better version of myself every day.

Techmirror: Tell us something rare about you.

Sodruldeen: I have a natural ability to get along with people, I am creative-minded and that helps me to see things from a different perspective. I feel accomplished when I see people grow, I feel like its symbiotic, when people grow, you grow too.

Techmirror: What message do you have for youths who want to be just like you?

Sodruldeen: Well, i am still a work in progress, so my advice is that they believe in themself. Self-development is the word I will ask them to always remember, nobody will develop you if you don't develop yourself. Don't be too comfortable at any stage in life to the extent of being stagnant, life is dynamic, always strive to do more and grow.