William Kamkwamba’s windmills



When we speak of Africa there are often things we take for granted, consider absolutely normal. We are reminded of this by the story of a fourteen-year-old by the name of William Kamkwamba, who built a windmill in his village to generate electricity.

More than one billion people around the world do not have access to electricity, which is absolutely fundamental to so many other essential areas of human life. A study by Kathleen Buchholz of NGO Lifeline Energy reveals how access to electricity improves the educational achievements of young students. It allows them to rid themselves of some less healthy alternatives such as kerosene lamps, which can take up as much as 25% of household income. To put this in context, polluted air in the home kills more people around the world than malaria and AIDS put together. For this reason energy poverty now appears on the agenda of large international bodies. Even if this is still rarely discussed in Italy.

The story of William and his windmill was first turned into a book and then a documentary. Today William is a brilliant student in the United States where he has been mentored by Bill Clinton. But he says he does not intend to abandon his homeland. He will take the experience he has acquired at the University of Dartmouth back to Malawi to take on his next challenge – to build low-cost wells to help his people access another basic essential, water.