William Kamkwamba Moves on From DIY Windmills to DIY Water Well Drills

ted talk windmill image


William Kamkwamba has been a source of inspiration for us ever since he created his own working wind turbine from scratch in 2007. With zero money, zero new parts, and zero experience, he managed to devise a wind turbine that could power four lights and two radios. He later gave a talk at TED about his experience. Now, he offers up this excellent interview about his endeavor, hoping to spark others in similar into creative action. He's also moved on from windmills and has another big project up his sleeve.


Kamkwamba recently published his autobiography, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and TED had a chance to catch up with him and ask about his book as well as his experiences since putting together his windmill.

He's currently studying electricity at the high school level, and plans on continuing on to study mechanical and electrical engineering. He'll likely be able to gather plenty of experience considering what he hopes to build next:

Right now I am interested in building a drilling machine. I want to build a machine that can drill wells for water. With this problem of water in many places in Africa, we need to find a solution for how you can dig wells so you can be pumping water from deeper places.

I want to bring clean water to people who do not have it. What I'm trying to do now is think of ways to build a well-drilling machine that is low-cost so people in rural areas can afford it. People in rural places could use the water for irrigation, or for drinking.

...As I said before, my main plan is to see how I can bring clean water to poor people. Once I finish with the drill, I want to design a pump that can be inserted into the wells they have drilled, so they can use it to pump their water to use for drinking or irrigation.

As we've seen from organizations like charity: water, a structure like this would be greatly appreciated by a vast number of people. The world water crisis is worsening, and places like Africa are being hit hard. Having affordable access to clean water is a big problem. Not only is it an issue of drilling wells, but also of purifying what water is available. A great amount of brain power and ingenuity is being put into water purification.

Kamkwamba also states that while he's busy with school and can't help other people who want to create windmills, he has taught his cousin and plans to teach more people in Malawi how to build their own windmill so they can generate electricity on their own.

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