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Celebrating African Talent: William Kamkwamba

The amazing story of the young Malawian man who defied odds and let innovation take precedence. William Kamkwamba is a Malawian whose amazing story I’m sharing with you here.

William Kamkwamba is an innovator, an engineer, an author, whose prominence came from his remarkable engineering efforts. He was born on 5 August 1987 in Dowa, Malawi.

He gained fame in his country when, in 2002, he built a wind turbine to power a few electrical appliances in his family’s house in Wimbe (32 kilometres (20 mi) east of Kasungu) using blue gum trees, bicycle parts, and materials collected in a local scrapyard. Since then, he has built a solar-powered water pump that supplies the first drinking water in his village and two other wind turbines.

Kamkwamba dropped out of school due to a ravaging famine. It is from this grave predicament that he found his passion with engineering. Despite this setback, he managed to have access to the school library and from here he acquired knowledge in the filed of electronics. Before, he had once set up a small business repairing his village’s radios, but his work with the radios had not earned him much money.

Kamkwamba, after reading a book called Using Energy, decided to create a makeshift wind turbine. He experimented with a small model using a cheap dynamo and eventually made a functioning wind turbine that powered some electrical appliances in his family’s house. Local farmers and journalists investigated the spinning device and Kamkwamba’s fame in international news skyrocketed.

William later on built another windmill, ‘the Green Machine’, which is used to turn a water pump to irrigate his family’s field. Since then the life of this young Malawian who had never left his village has changed, being even praised by former US vice President and Nobel laureate Al-Gore, among others. He’s invited to prestigious technological conferences and even the Wall Street Journal wrote an article about him.

William Kamkwamba has received wide coverage and has been interviewed by many media houses. As I always note, such amazing talent is worth celebrating.

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