Omotoyosi Craig Research Of The Year

Omotoyosi Craig (South Africa’s winner of the 2016 YOUNG RESEARCHER OF THE YEAR AWARD) is an all-time Nigerian Innovation Management and Systems Analysis Engineer. He is currently studying for his PhD. The award which is Renewable Energy Research Excellence Award (RERE) is jointly organized by the Renewable Centre of Research and Development and South African National Energy Association.

This is an exclusive interview with Toyosi and his story will inspire you……

Can you tell us about your background?

OK. My name is Toyosi Craig, a Nigerian and I am an Innovation Management and System Analyst. I am from Abeokuta, Ogun State. I attended Abeokuta Grammar School.

It is said that everyone has a story, please tell us how it all began and how you got to this point…

My story is all through the grace of God.

Growing up, I and a couple of friends went from putting together Child Rights Forums in schools, to counseling children in broken homes among many other things back in Ogun State. We also made UPS and many other basic engineering wares for some competitions in my high school.

Thereafter, I proceeded to the University and I had three major dreams to achieve. The first was to finish with good grades, then see that a befitting entrance gate was built for the University. The third was to build an effective pounded yam machine before graduating from the Federal University of Akure, Ondo State. The third came from the experience of living with an older cousin, whose wife would struggle to pound yam every night. All these were achieved by the grace of God, the support of family, friends and other members of my graduating class.

During my final year in school, I joined forces with some older friends to build an I.T. facility in Akure to empower youths within and even outside the state. I then proceeded to national youth service where I organized some events in Warri, Delta State. At the end of those events, three high school students got full scholarships. These events even got me a state award.

Shortly after this, I moved to Osun State where I and some friends made diesel oil from Jatropha seeds. I was in-charge of the machine design and proposal writing, but we ended up with many failed promises from various quarters. The saddest part was that we had motivated and trained many farmers on seedling plantation techniques and other processes including nursery techniques.

After all this, I finally decided to go back to Abeokuta. While I was there, I started making plastic wood. But there was no support for this at the time. At this point, I was also in search of a job, but never got any. On one occasion, I had to travel from Warri to Lagos for an interview which I was eventually denied because my NYSC certificate was not ready. My monthly allowance wasted, risked my life just to meet up with the interviewer and you don’t want to know where I slept that night. It was at that point I knew I had to change my orientation.

Later that year, I learnt that some schools in South Africa were world class. I applied to Stellenbosch University and God favored me. I was able to build a stand-alone parabolic solar cooker suitable for the African condition. This project has been widely celebrated. Nigeria no doubt is my home, but the truth remains that South Africa gave me opportunities that I dreamed of.

Are you working on anything at the moment?

Yes, I am. I’m planning to develop solar refrigeration and air conditioning systems for our silos, to reduce grain wastage and overcome food insecurity plaguing the African society and some parts of the world. I and some friends are also working on post-harvest packing to reduce fruit and crop losses.

Do you have any advice for young innovative minds like you?

Yes, I do. My story is not different from so many young Nigerians. We need to remember that we have come too far to turn back now, I believe we are unbreakable. So we need to find a way or make one ourselves.

What is your plan after your PhD program?

I cannot disclose that here, but it still comes to wiping hunger out of Africa and alleviating poverty.

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