Famous Person

William Kamkwamba

William Kamkwamba

Innovator, Engineer, and Author of “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind”

Year of Birth  5 August 1987
Hometown Kasungu, Malawi

About William Kamkwamba

William Kamkwamba was one of seven children born to a family of subsistence farmers and grew up in Wimbe, Kasungu.

When he completed 8th grade at Wimbe primary school and was accepted to Kachokolo secondary school in 2001, Malawi experienced its longest-ever drought brought severe famine.

William was told his family couldn’t afford USD80 to continue his education, and he was forced to drop out of school a few months into his freshman year.

In a desperate attempt to retain his education, William continued visiting a small community library located at his former primary school and reading an 8th-grade American textbook ‘Using Energy’ which depicted wind turbines on its cover.

After reading it, he decided to build an electricity-producing windmill from spare parts and scrap to power his family’s home and irrigate fields.

Using scrap metal, tractor parts, bicycle halves, blue gum trees, and materials collected in a local scrapyard, William was able to power four light bulbs and charge neighbours’ mobile phones.

A second machine turned a water pump that could battle the drought and famine.

Soon, this news of William spread around the world beyond the borders of his home.

He was invited to speak at TEDGlobal in Tanzania in 2007.

His speech moved the audience, and several venture capitalists at the conference pledged to help finance for his secondary education.

Thanks to the help, Willian finally re-enrolled in secondary school.

In 2014, William received his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire and started his tenure at Ideo.org as a Global Fellow.

He is now working with WiderNet to develop appropriate technology curriculum that will allow people to bridge the gap between “knowing” and “doing”.

William was named one of the “30 People Under 30 Changing The World” by TIME Magazine in 2013.

On 1 March 2019, Netflix is set to release a movie titled ‘The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind’ based on a true story of William Kamkwamba.