Tuesday, July 24, 2007

African Teenager Builds A Windmill To Power His Home

Reading this story reminds me again why I love the Internet. This kid lives half way across the planet from me, but thanks to his blog, I know more about how he lives his life then I do about most of my neighbors.

Using simple and straightforward concepts of science, William Kamkwamba of Mastala Village in the area of T/A Wimbe is generating electricity for his home using the ancient technology of a windmill.

William says after dropping out of school in 2002, because he could not raise schools fees, he had nothing to do and grew an interest in reading science books from Wimbe Teachers Development Centre (TDC). The books were donated by the Malawi Teacher Training Activity (MTTA) and were sourced from the International Book Bank.

He says one day while reading he came across two books, “Using Energy” and “How it Works” which talked about how to generate electricity using a windmill and was motivated to try it.

On a trial and error basis he managed to make a small windmill which generated electricity enough to light his little dom. Seeing its success he planned to make a bigger one so that his parents too could benefit and some well-wishers gave him money to get some of the materials he needed based on his innovativeness.

“When I was making all these people were mocking me that I was driving mad but I had confidence in what I was doing because I knew if it was written in the books then it was true and possible. When I succeeded they were impressed,” explains William.

The windmill stands on a tripod of wood polls about five metres above the ground. It consists of locally-available materials and as far as he can remember his investments were K500 for two bearings, K500 for a bicycle dynamo, K400 for a fun belt and K800 for a bicycle frame.
Africa could use a few more William Kamkwambas.

Update: Video of William at TED is now available.

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