With all the sobering news lately about global warming and war, it’s important to remember all the positive things that are ALSO going on in the world at any given time. Case in point: the story of intrepid Malawi youth William Kamkwamba who, despite having no formal education or training, recently engineered and built a windmill to power his house. It’s certainly the most inspiring story we’ve read this month, and we think you’ll agree…

After having to drop out of school due to lack of funds, William Kamkwamba from Malawi decided to learn as much as he could from books that had been donated to his primary school’s library. One of the books detailed how to build a windmill that generated enough electricity.

With much trial and error, some local materials, and an investment of about 16 dollars, William constructed a windmill that could generate enough energy for a few light bulbs and a radio. While a few bulbs might sound insignificant, the difference changed William’s and his family’s life entirely. Instead of using expensive paraffin candles, which produce smoke and irritate the eyes, William and his family now use the energy generated by the wind to light up their house. The engineering youth also hooked up a car battery to his generator to use as a backup in case of a non-windy day.

The 12-meter tall windmill (it was originally only 5 meters) is made out of scrap timber. The blades, originally made from PVC, now steel, power a bicycle dynamo, the type that power a bicycle headlamp, which in turn provides electricity to the battery. William uses this energy for his house, as well as to help others recharge their batteries. Just recently, he moved from a car battery to a deep discharge battery, which will help improve with the power storage of his house.

William’s story does not end here. After appearing in the local papers, and blogged by Soyapi Mumba, he was contacted by Emeka Okafor, the recent curator of the TED Global Conference in Arusha. Okafor invited William to speak at the conference as one of the 100 other prestigious presenters. It was there that William was first introduced to computers, the internet, Google, and the blog (he now has his own blog, in which he writes about his experience).

What does the future hold for this local green hero/inventor/entrepreneur? He has made recent modifications to the windmill and completed a second installation at his primary school. He also plans to modify his windmill to include the ability to pump water from his well and irrigate his garden.

Truly a remarkable and inspiring story. If you are feeling as moved as we are over William’s accomplishments, you can donate directly to help William’s education and engineering projects here >

+ William Kamkwamba’s Malawi Windmill Blog


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  1. Terrence Eissfeldt July 23, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    It is very inspiring, so inspiring that if I had the ability ( such as the large wind generation companies do) I would provide William and others in other villages, WindFARMS, so they could enjoy the same things we enjoy in North America and take so much for granted.) Money, People, technology and mainly what it takes…keep prayin people…

  2. sudhirdesign September 19, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    This is inspiring, can light up many houses, with some changes, modifications and association with experts. Any further progress William? Kindly update. We would be interested to join hands to make this a complete system, you can contact us. Sudhir Kumar, Industrial Designer,

  3. usman May 30, 2008 at 7:08 am

    if every person think like that then our world will have a greener and safer tomorrow

  4. usman May 30, 2008 at 7:05 am

    if every man think like that we will save our world

  5. Onjefu February 20, 2008 at 7:08 am

    As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. There are some pretty ingenious folks all over Africa. I hope this kid gets the support he needs to shine.

  6. Tommy Peters November 23, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    Why is Rielly under the radar? Tom is where William is coming from. He should be celebrated as well. Now the ball is in the court of the Malawi government. They and corporate sponsors would provide the necessary traction.

  7. Ad October 20, 2007 at 5:34 am

    What an act of good-will gesture!

    Not only he’s helping others in times of trouble, he went that extra mile with a really wise solution :- power with a natural windmill, no pollution, environmentally friendly! Now, helping others does not have to be at the expense of another’s suffering! Really well done!

  8. A Man and his Windmill ... October 1, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    […] Read the inspiring story of William Kamkwamba, a young man who, despite no formal training, built a … You hear this so often it’s easy to dismiss the advice, and it goes something like, if you have a dream then go after it. Nike wrapped this sentiment in three words, Just Do It, which is so characteristically American that it’s hard not to love, but like I said, it’s easy to dismiss the importance of this notion. There is nothing quite being precise and surgical in your pursuit of a desire. On a related noted, I always thought Go Be It worked better on a spiritual- evolutionary level, but that’s why I’m sitting here stuffing my face with Doritos, and Nike is posed to take over the world. […]

  9. William White August 13, 2007 at 11:08 am

    Is it possible to send this guy some money? People like this deserve support.

  10. William Kamkwamba's Win... August 9, 2007 at 12:30 pm

    […] deep discharge battery, which will help improve with the power storage of his house. Full Source: Inhabitat MALAWI YOUTH BUILDS WINDMILL TO POWER VILLAGE William Kamkwamba’s Wind Mill Blog that details all of the outstanding support he’s been receiving […]

  11. Content Corner 8-5-07 (... August 5, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    […] Malawi Youth Builds Windmill to Power Village When was the last time that you built your own power producing windmill from scratch?  Never?  Well, this guy did it just by reading some books and being determined.  Since I am teaching myself (and hopefully you) web page design from scratch I feel a certain connection to William.  In fact, he recently started his own blog so here is a link to it: […]

  12. claudio August 1, 2007 at 10:02 am


  13. David Clark July 30, 2007 at 8:08 am

    Simply astounding! Well done! Malawians are some of the most industrious and wonderful people, I really love living here, and this just goes to show what can be done if you apply yourself and go the extra mile.

  14. It's the only one we ha... July 24, 2007 at 3:28 am

    […] Full Story digg_url = ‘'; digg_title = ‘Malawi youth builds a wind turbine to power his village'; digg_bodytext = ‘After having to drop out of school due to lack of funds, William Kamkwamba from Malawi decided to learn as much as he could from books that had been donated to his primary school’s library. One of the books detailed how to build a windmill that generated enough electricity. With much trial and error, some local […]'; digg_skin = “compact”; digg_topic = “environment”; ( function() { var ds=typeof digg_skin==’string’?digg_skin:”; var h=80; var w=52; if(ds==’compact’) { h=18; w=120; } var u=typeof digg_url==’string’?digg_url:(typeof DIGG_URL==’string’?DIGG_URL:window.location.href); document.write(“”); } )() […]

  15. Aileen July 20, 2007 at 5:51 pm

    Great story

  16. Aileen July 20, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    I agree with Debra, this young man is an asset to his family and his country. We find out quickly that we have to do what we have to to survive.

  17. Poorvi July 17, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Truly inspiring……. what neccesity and drive makes some people achieve!

  18. » ... July 15, 2007 at 4:00 am

    […] having no education or training, recently engineered and built a windmill to power his house. The full story (with pictures) comes from Inhabitat. And as one comment remarks after the article: […]

  19. Debra Sheffield July 14, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Can operation blessing or some entrepenuer help this incredible resourcseful help this young man to take the lead and be the CEO to provide windmilll power to his and those countries around him. He deserves it.

    God Bless,

  20. Rick Titus July 14, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Kudos to the gentleman. His accomplishment reminds me that several decades ago a bunch of different human powered improvement projects accomplished by Peace Corps members was published in some sort of a 1970s, maybe 1980s compendium of low-tech ways to raise and move water, wash clothes, fan, heat , etc. Maybe a former Peace Corps volunteer will read this and remember something more about the publication. One project was very much the same as Williams. I would always trade education for initiative.

  21. Jabulon July 14, 2007 at 10:46 am

    hm. wonderful story and all, but its important to remember that the west is demanding that africans build windmills and solar energy instead of using the wast amounts of coal and oil, all due to our sudden fight against global warming. or to say in short; were pressuring poor countries to use the most expensive least efficient forms of energy we have (solar and windmill) and deny them the use of their coal and oil.

    besides global warming really isnt man made, just look at the emission-rates for volcanoes… like, can we stop those from emitting CO2? with this in mind, and remembering that etna put out more climate-gases than we have yet (!!) claiming that we can reverse the effect is utter BS.


    god dammit, start reading people! also google for “global warming swindle” thats a great doc

  22. R. Kennedy July 13, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Good Job William!

  23. J July 13, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    I’m interested to know what the BLOG entry has to say but don’t read (or speak) the language :-(. Anyone out there who would take the time to prepare & post a translation ?

    Many thanks

  24. Pink Robe July 13, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    This is an absolutely wonderful story! DIY making a difference…

  25. The Running Munckee / P... July 13, 2007 at 12:17 pm

    […] [via inhabitat] Technorati Tags: malawi windmill, running munckee, william kamkwamba […]

  26. Appropriate Technology ... July 12, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    […] intuition. I was reminded of him when I read about William Kamkwamba, a Malawian teenager who has built a windmill to provide his village with […]

  27. ambiente » Blog A... July 12, 2007 at 11:45 am

    […] William Kamkwamba è un contadino del Malawi che si è procurato un’istruzione fai-da-te, visto che i soldi non bastavano per andare a scuola. E grazie al fai-da-te è riuscito a costruire un mulino eolico utilizzando legname di scarto e la dinamo di una bicicletta. Spesa: 16 dollari. Ne ricava energia elettrica sufficiente per lui, per la sua famiglia e per tenere il blog sul quale racconta le sue esperienze: ormai è diventato una celebrità locale e potrà insegnare a costruire tanti altri piccoli mulini eolici. Per ora, ne ha regalato uno alla scuola elementare. Vogliamo prenderlo come esempio per una politica di “energia diffusa”, pulita, rinnovabile ed autoprodotta? Via Inhabitat. […]

  28. Robert Johnston July 12, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Please forward the method to send this young man some funds for his education.

    Thank you

  29. Michael V. July 12, 2007 at 10:36 am

    great story, we need more inspiring stories like this!

  30. 风一样的男子 at ... July 12, 2007 at 10:27 am

    […] 来源及阅读更多 风力发电,William Kamkwamba […]

  31. Lisette July 12, 2007 at 9:30 am

    I continually look forward to my Inhabitat newsletters as there is always a good and innovative update – especially the one of the Malawi youth building the windmill to generate power for his town. Slightly disappointed that he had to be described in the brief as “having no education or training,” when what he obviously has is an overabundance ‘informal education’ or has been ‘self-taught.’ Just a thought…

  32. Jill July 11, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Thanks Tom for the correction – duly noted – we have updated the post!

    Publisher, Inhabitat

  33. Jim July 11, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Truely inspiring. And honestly, at the same time I feel so dumb. I have at my hand every possible advantage, tool, money and time. Yet I can’t honestly say (except looking after my family) that I’ve done something so ingenious, simple and helpful. Amazed and inspired!

  34. Tom Rielly July 11, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    small correction: the windmill powers only his house right now. It’s two buidlings, but he is currently building a clean energy project to power his neighborhood (6 families) and he will blog about that when it’s done. It’s not quite a village just yet.

    Tom Rielly
    William’s American mentor

  35. mindtangle » Blog... July 11, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    […] From […]

  36. Elyse July 11, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    What an amazing man!

  37. royalestel July 11, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    DIY. Gotta love it.

  38. diana July 11, 2007 at 2:22 pm

    Very impressive. He’ll really make a difference in people’s lives.

  39. J July 11, 2007 at 10:39 am

    awesome…. the inguinity and ambition of this young guy is something for all of us to look up to.

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