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The Boy Who Once Harnessed The Wind Now Uplifts Young Inventors

William Kamkwamba found power, literally and metaphorically, through adversity. When he was just 14 years old, he created a windmill using spare parts to provide electricity to his African village. The Malawi native recounted his dedication and quest for knowledge in his best-selling memoir, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, in 2009.

His country’s drought in the early 2000s led to a lack of resources and financial opportunities, leaving Kamkwamba’s family without proper energy sources or the ability to pay for his education. Kamkwamba’s audacity to resolve one of his family’s most pressing issues led him to build a makeshift yet efficient windmill to power their home.

The former scrappy teen inventor is now a renowned figure in technological and sustainability spaces, and utilizes his platform to encourage young inventors to not let limited resources thwart their aspirations.

The TED Talk speaker shared with Afrotech his journey and current mission of co-creating the Moving Windmills Project.

“We want to build this space where we are going to be able to bring in young people from all over the country to build a community of change-makers,” said Kamkwamba. “Solutions sometimes don’t have to come from somewhere else, but 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.”

Through mentorship and the creation of an innovation center, the organization intends to facilitate workshops whose young members can imagine and create designs that will advance the infrastructure of their countries.

Renewable and homegrown resources contributed to Kamkwamba’s own mechanical achievements, something he hopes to harness within the new generation of inventors.

His focus on electric power sources will branch out into farming and vehicles, to not only connect brilliant minds from far-reaching places, but also to provide lifelong tools and tactics to ensure that their communities thrive.

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