William Kamkwamba (born August 5, 1987) is a Malawian innovator, engineer and author. He gained fame in his country when, in 2002, he built a windmill to power a few electrical appliances in his family’s house in Wimbe (20 miles 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 windmills (the tallest standing at 39 feet) and is planning two more, including one in Lilongwe, the political capital of Malawi.
image from marieinmalawi / William Kamkwamba Signing His Book
Windmill and other projects
Starting at 14, rather than accept his fate, William started borrowing books from a small community lending library located at his former primary school. He borrowed an 8th grade American textbook called Using Energy, which depicted wind turbines on its cover. He decided to build a windmill to power his family’s home and obviate the need for kerosene, which provided only smoky, flickering, distant and expensive light after dark. First, he built a prototype using a radio motor, then his initial 5-meter windmill out of a broken bicycle, tractor fan blade, old shock absorber, and blue gum trees. After hooking the windmill to a car battery for storage, William was able to power four light bulbs and charge neighbors’ mobile phones. This system was even equipped with homemade light switches and a circuit breaker made from nails, wire, and magnets. The windmill was later extended to 12 meters to better catch the wind above the trees. A third windmill pumped grey water for irrigation.
image from marieinmalawi
TED TALK Presentation
Kamkwamba was a fellow at the prestigious TEDGlobal Conference in Arusha, Tanzania where he spoke briefly (video at ted.com) and spoke at the World Economic Forum Africa (weforum.org) meeting in Cape Town, June 2008 where he keynoted the AMD-sponsored technology pre-conference, and spoke on a panel. He spoke at International CES in January, 2009; the grand opening of the African Leadership Academy in February, 2009; the Africa Economic Forum at Columbia University in March, 2009; the Aspen Ideas Festival, and will speak at TED Global 2009, Maker Faire Africa, and Science Chicago in summer 2009.
image from marieinmalawi
William has finished his autobiography The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope with co-author Bryan Mealer (author of All Things Must Fight to Live, his reportage of the war in Democratic Republic of Congo). William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins will publish the book worldwide September 29, 2009.
Source: williamkamkwamba, Marie in Malawi, Wikipedia
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