How Malawian School Drop-Out Built A Windmill To Generate Electricity For His Village At Age 14.

This is yet another true life story cast to celebrate the sheer ingenuity of Africans who are often driven by a burning desire to create value and bring about innovation, even though faced with certain systemic challenges. For William Kamkwamba, now an inventor and engineer, it was the need to provide a solution to the water and electricity crisis in his village that spurred him on to developing a community windmill at the tender age of 14 even while he was a dropout.

The wise words above from William Kamkwamba’s grandmother was what lit a fire in him to strive to take action himself to create solutions. From a very young age, Kamkwamba’s native mind was always filled with curiosity. His vivid imagination as a child had him taking apart radios because he initially thought tiny people were talking inside of them. While successful in putting them back together, Kamkwamba faced the challenge of having no electricity at home. What’s more, from 2000 to 2001, Malawi had a drought that caused withering crops, which left the residents facing hunger. Due to the drastic impact on the country, Kamkwamba’s parents also couldn’t afford his studies, leading him to drop out of secondary school. However, his thirst for knowledge was still alive and well.
William Kamkwamba, the boy who harnessed the power of the wind to provide electricity for his village
However, he didn’t have the parts to create a windmill that pumped water. So instead, at age 14, Kamkwamba built a windmill from spare parts and scraps to generate electricity. The teen watched the impact of his creation firsthand as people in his village began using it to charge their cell phones and showed an interest in learning how to build a windmill for their own homes.

When The Daily Times in Blantyre, the commercial capital of Malawi, wrote a story on Kamkwamba's wind turbine in November 2006, the story circulated through the blogosphere, and TED conference director Emeka Okafor invited Kamkwamba to talk at TEDGlobal 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania as a guest. His speech moved the audience, and several venture capitalists at the conference pledged to help finance his secondary education. He became a student at African Bible College Christian Academy in Lilongwe. He then went on to receive a scholarship to the African Leadership Academy and in 2014 graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire

Kamkwamba’s true story birthed his New York Times bestseller, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope,” which was published in 2009.
A view of the community wind mill
Prior to the book’s release, his 2007 TED Talk titled, “How I Built a Windmill,” and connections with the TED community led him to co-found the Moving Windmills Project. The organization aims to give youth the opportunity to grow their innovative design ideas through the support of mentorship. In addition, Kamkwamba and his team are working to build an innovation center for children across Malawi.
Kamkwamba speaking at a TED Conference in Tanzania
Kamkwamba, now an inventor and engineer
“We want to build this space where we are gonna be able to bring in young people from all over the country to build a community of changemakers,” he said. “Solutions sometimes don’t have to come from somewhere else, the solution is within us. If we can be able to work together as a community, we can be able to figure out what best solution works for our challenges.”