How African Boy Harnessed Wind To Light His House

The Logical Indian Crew

October 15th, 2019 / 3:58 PM

William Kamkwamba

Image Credits: Wikimedia, Wikimedia

Africa has been dealing with the agricultural and economic crisis for decades. Much of it is attributed to the poor electrification in the continent. While Asian countries have reached 80 per cent of electrification despite a large number of population, Africa still remains at 43 per cent.

It is said that necessity is the need for invention. It was this need that led a 14-year-old African boy to create a windmill from scrap to electrify his house against all the odds.

Born, in a poor household, majorly dependent upon farming in the economically struggling and drought-hit African Nation of Malawi, William Kamkwamba, had a keen interest in electronics and along with his friends, used to run a small radio repairing workshop for fun.

But William was forced to drop out of school in 2001 due to a crippling famine. Being financially poor his return to school was not possible. Unperturbed and determined, he borrowed books from a local library to educate himself. It was there that his interest in electronics turned into a passion after reading an 8th Grade American textbook “Using Energy” which had wind turbines on its cover. He decided to create a makeshift wind turbine to generate electricity for a house.

William used tractor fan blade, scrap metal and bicycle parts, an old shock absorber, and blue gum trees to create a makeshift windmill, that went on to power four household lights and charged mobile phones. He late built a separate windmill that could run a water pump for irrigation.

William came limelight when The Daily Times in Malawi wrote about him in November 2006. The news of this creation soon went across. Local farmers and journalists investigated the spinning device, and Kamkwamba’s fame in international news skyrocketed.

He later received a scholarship to the African Leadership Academy and graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. 

Since then, he has built a solar-powered water pump that supplies drinking water in his village and two other wind turbines. William’s tallest wind turbine is 12 meters high, and he is planning two more, including one in Lilongwe, the political capital of Malawi. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College in 2014. Today, the 31-year-old is a TEDx speaker and has spoken on his accomplishments, in 2007 and 2009. In 2019 a film was written and directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor was adapted from his autobiography,” THE BOY WHO HARNESSED THE WIND”.

Also Read: ‘Never Be Defeated’, Says India’s First Visually Impaired Woman IAS Officer After Taking Charge


Written by : Kartikay Sharma (Intern)

Edited by : Shubhendu Deshmukh

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