William Kamkwamba

October 7 2009

I sent a friend in Malawi a BBC News link about a young Malawian, William Kamkwamba, who had supplied his village with electricity by building a windmill out of junk. That might seem an obvious thing to do, but it had never happened in Malawi. Kamkwamba worked it out for himself and built it.

He is now on a scholarship at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, where it turns out that my friend had met him. A book has been published about him. Here is his blog. Here is his photostream on Flickr.

My friend writes: “Nobody in Malawi seems to have heard of him, which does not surprise me, as all public attention seems to be concentrated on whether or not a certain Malawian MP has been bumped off on the orders of the hideous J.Z.U. Tembo, and how much money can be got from our new ‘development partners’, ie the mainland Chinese. [At the beginning of last year, Malawi expelled the mild and beneficent Taiwanese.] Someone like William K. who – for once – makes real and practical the tired post-colonial rhetoric of ‘African solutions for African problems’ is of no interest at all.”


Photo from http://www.inhabitat.com

4 Responses to “William Kamkwamba”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    At the African Development Bank annual meeting in Arusha. Endless talk about African solutions for African problems from officials. But younger entrepreneurs turn the phrase into action. There are many of them all over the continent now.

    At one point Richard Dowden exhorted “Africans” to “be themselves”, which I thought was patronising in itself.

  2. […] William Kamkwamba (post here), the Malawian who built a wind-powered electricity generator for his village without help from the Internet, on first being told about search engines. As told to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, 2009. […]

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