Malawian windmill

From The Daily Times:

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...

He says one day while reading he came across two books, Using Energy and How it Works, which are about generation of electricity using a windmill.

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

"When I was making all these, some people were mocking me that I was going 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 wooden 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. [about $15 USD total]

link to full article (link is dead - dailytimes doesn't appreciate the value of permanent internet publishing...yet) Update - found the original story on the Internet Archive (thanks Chris!).

13 Response to Malawian windmill

  1. [...] rica Malawi, Development, Energy, Science, Technology Global Roundups Hactivate has a moving story about a windmill in Malawi, “The windmill stands on a [...]

  2. [...] Story Link (via Hacktivate) Share this post:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers [...]

  3. [...] Remember William Kamkwamba and his homemade Windmill made from bicycle parts? [...]

  4. [...] the attention of Malawian software developer and blogger Soyapi Mumba, whose post got picked up by Hactivate, Afrigadget and other blogs. Emeka Okafor from Timbuktu Chronicles - curator of the TED Global [...]

  5. [...] Remember William Kamkwamba and his homemade Windmill made from bicycle parts? [...]

  6. [...] reading about Kamkwamba on Mike McKay’s blog Hactivate (which picked up the story from a local Malawi newspaper), TEDGlobal Conference Director Emeka [...]

  7. [...] Kamkwamba, whom I first blogged about three years ago continues his amazing ascent. Where there was nothing but a drought laden field he built a tower of [...]

  8. [...] as blue-gum trees, bicycle parts, and materials collected in a local scrapyard. Mike McKay blogged about him. And courtesy of Mike’s post, he was invited to attend the TED conference in Tanzania. Since [...]

  9. [...] local press reported William’s astonishing achievement, Hactivate picked up the story. TED did an interview with William who was so shy, he gave the shortest of answers, against a [...]

  10. Chris says:

    Regarding the dead link to the Daily Times, it might be of interest that the Internet Archive holds archived copies of many transient web pages.

    The article in question can still be seen at

  11. [...] malawskiego wynalazcy zaczęło się od wpisu na blogu. Mike McKay na swoim blogu Hacktivate opisał historię Williama cytując artykuł z malawskiej gazety. Niewiele później opowieść obiegła świat poruszając wielu ludzi. Piętnastoletni William [...]

  12. Hi Bryan, I've read William's story with amazement and I was very moved when I heard about the existence of another East African called Peter who, like William, has built a windmill out of scrap and constructed several pieces of machinery which he runs on the electricity he generates. I was so inspired by both stories that I published an article about it:
    and a photo story on flickr:

  13. I recently came across the film 'The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind' which is based on the story of William Kamkwamba. His story is very impressing and has touched me deeply. With people like him anything is possible.

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