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African Teen Builds Windmills From Recycled Material To Supply His Village With Electricity

Amidst a dire situation which threatened the livelihood of his native African village, one determined teen came up with an innovative idea that would drastically change not only his country but his entire life.

William Kamkwamba, a teen native of Malawi, is supplying his entire village with electricity.


Malawi is one of the world’s least-developed countries located in southeast Africa. Its economy is based heavily upon agriculture and hosts a mostly rural population.

About seven years ago, Malawi went through a devastating drought that killed thousands of people.

William’s family and others were forced to survive on one meal a day. His father, a farmer, was left without any source of income.

During the drought, William noticed that one resource remained abundantwind. That’s when the teen was struck with an idea that could revolutionize his village.

“I wanted to do something to help and change things,” he said. “Then I said to myself, ‘If they can make electricity out of wind, I can try, too.”

William had previously been kicked out of his local school when he couldn’t afford to pay the $80 school fees. He spent most of his days in the library where he came across a book with windmills on the cover.

“I thought, this thing exists in this book, it means someone else managed to build this machine,” he said.

The then 14-year-old set out to teach himself how to build windmills.

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He started looking in junkyards for materials like bicycle parts, plastic pipes, tractor fans, and car batteries. For the tower’s structure, William collected wood from native blue-gum trees.

“Everyone laughed at me when I told them I was building a windmill. They thought I was crazy,” he said.

William began his windmill project back in 2002.

William’s village currently has five windmills with the tallest reaching 37 feet.

He even built one at a school nearby where he used to teach classes on windmill-building.

“I wanted to finish it just to prove them wrong,” William said. “I knew people would then stop thinking I was crazy.”

Each of the windmills generates electricity and pumps water to William’s hometown where neighbors often stop by to charge their cellphones.


The teen’s life-changing work has not gone unnoticed around the world. In fact, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore has applauded his initiative.

William’s story was captured in a Netflix original film called The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind which debuted last month.

The now 22-year-old pioneer is a student at the African Leadership Academy, an elite South African school for young leaders where donors pay for his tuition.

h/t: Science Times 


Written by Emily Burns

Writer and editorial specialist based out of Austin, TX.