Wednesday,23 May, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1151, 6 - 12 June 2013
Wednesday,23 May, 2018
Issue 1151, 6 - 12 June 2013

Ahram Weekly

Lean mean mining machine

Gehad Hussein converses with Kashef, an Egyptian machine with a bloodhound nose

Al-Ahram Weekly

My name is Kashef. Yes, I am a machine. And yes, I can talk. Now after you get over this, how about I tell you how to solve about 70 per cent of Egypt’s problems? You do not believe me, do you?
I was born in 2011 in Menoufiya, the governorate’s university to be exact, and won several international competitions. Eight students were working very hard to bring me to life and make me their graduation project.
What do I do? I deactivate mines without human help. With slight modifications, I can also detect monuments, different stones and anything else that is buried.
You know why I am important? Because today, Egypt is home to 23 million mines, one-fifth the global number. Having a fifth of the world’s 110 million mines in Egypt is a huge problem. After World War II, Germany and Great Britain planted these mines in Egypt’s desert and just left them there. This is one of the main reasons why 85 million people live on only 7.5 per cent of Egypt’s land, crammed together. This affects Egyptians psychologically and mentally; they are generally stressed out.
Also, 22 per cent of our land has natural resources, and the rest can easily be used for agricultural, industrial and touristic investments, but as there are no maps concerning the whereabouts of the minefields, these projects are all on hold. It’s really depressing, especially that the government is not really offering solid solutions, but only tranquilisers.
But this is not the time to be depressed; it’s time to work. It is time to turn ideas into reality, just like my godfathers Mohamed Gouda and Ahmed Hassan did when they decided to turn me into a business.
Of course, they did not go through the process unharmed and had to sacrifice a lot for my existence and well-being. You know how it is in Egypt. When entrepreneurs mention the word “airplane” and “radar” in Egypt, state security and officials become worried and very unwelcoming of the situation. If people want to build a mobile application or website, they need not worry about the reaction of officials. But a machine that works like a mini-airplane and has radar attached to it — forget it. Some of my components are not available in Egypt and are not allowed to be imported, besides them being mostly expensive. My caretakers are really suffering from this problem, but nevertheless, they do not give up hope.
The army would love me if they got to know me better. Really, they would. But there is this thing about the army. Currently, it uses metal detectors and trains hundreds and thousands of people on how to use these metal detectors to find mines. Coming in with something new will be extremely expensive and sophisticated. It’s all about the money. The switching cost would be too high. Also, the army would not financially adopt a group of young people and wait until they finish their product. They want something tangible and this is what my godfathers are working on right now. Of course, it is possible to integrate new technology in the long-term, but there is no intention of doing that, not for the time being at least, because in general, Egyptians are not very open to change.
There is also the generation gap: to the older generations, I am just a kid and they do not believe that I can actually solve a problem that has been around for years. There are a million other inventions and ideas — how is it I would have something new to offer? All I can say is you have to give us young machines of Egypt a chance to develop and assist with the advancement of the country.
I want to live in a beautiful Egypt and my aim is to do all I can to turn this dream into reality. Don’t you want to do the same?

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