A young Malawian built a windmill from scratch to help power the lights in his rural home, his name is William Kamkwamba.


We’re very excited to announce that William Kamkwamba, sponsored by his organization Moving Windmills, will be coming to Maker Faire Africa. I first met William at TED Africa two years ago in Arusha, Tanzania. His story, at that time, was only known by a few of us as we had written about him on AfriGadget – but that quickly changed when he got up on the TED stage for his interview.

Last week he was on the TED stage again, this time at TED Global in Oxford. He ends his talk by saying:

“To all the people out there like me — to the Africans, and the poor, and the struggling, maybe one day you’ll watch this on the Internet: Trust yourself and believe. Whatever happens, don’t give up.”

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Due to my having been involved with TED, and knowing William, I was given an early release of the new biography of William called, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind“. It’s not out yet, but will be released a couple weeks after MFA. It’s an incredibly well-written and poignant story of hope in rural Africa.

The Documentary

There is also a documentary coming out about William later in the year. Below is the trailer for it, and you can tell how good of a film this will be just from this snapshot:

Matt Berg over at BuildAfrica blog has an interesting story of Mr Acheampong, a local entrepreneur who makes money by charging people’s mobile phones. He uses a homemade C-cell battery setup to do this (see below):

“Mr. Acheampong, one of the Abusuapanin Community Leader’s in Bonsaaso village, use’s 4 C dry cell batteries to charge mobile phones. The four 1.5V batteries in series adds up to 6V which is similar to the 5.5V that most cell phones require (amperage varies). The set of batteries cost 1 Ghana Cedi and he is able to charge four phones before needing to replace the batteries. This compares to the 1 Cedi cost of charging a phone at the local cell tower.”

However, Matt points out how inefficient this type of setup is. There are new low-cost options including the Tough Stuff Solar Panel coming in at around $20 retail.