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William Kamkwamba on building a windmill

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Chris Anderson: William, hi. Good to see you.

William Kamkwamba: Thanks.

CA: So, we've got a picture, I think? Where is this?

WK: This is my home. This is where I live.

CA: Where? What country?

WK: In Malawi, Kasungu. In Kasungu. Yeah, Mala.

CA: OK. Now, you're 19 now?

WK: Yeah. I'm 19 years now.

CA: Five years ago you had an idea. What was that?

WK: I wanted to make a windmill.

CA: A windmill?

WK: Yeah.

CA: What, to power -- for lighting and stuff?

WK: Yeah.

CA: So what did you do? How did you realize that?

WK: After I dropped out of school, I went to library, and I read a book that would -- "Using Energy," and I get information about doing the mill. And I tried, and I made it.


CA: So you copied -- you exactly copied the design in the book.

WK: Ah, no. I just --

CA: What happened?

WK: In fact, a design of the windmill that was in the book, it has got four -- ah -- three blades, and mine has got four blades.

CA: The book had three, yours had four.

WK: Yeah.

CA: And you made it out of what?

WK: I made four blades, just because I want to increase power.


WK: Yeah.

CA: You tested three, and found that four worked better?

WK: Yeah. I test.

CA: And what did you make the windmill out of? What materials did you use?

WK: I use a bicycle frame, and a pulley, and plastic pipe, what then pulls --

CA: Do we have a picture of that? Can we have the next slide?

WK: Yeah. The windmill.

CA: And so, and that windmill, what -- it worked?

WK: When the wind blows, it rotates and generates.

CA: How much electricity?

WK: 12 watts.

CA: And so, that lit a light for the house? How many lights?

WK: Four bulbs and two radios.

CA: Wow.

WK: Yeah.

(Applause) CA: Next slide -- so who's that?

WK: This is my parents, holding the radio.

CA: So what did they make of -- that you were 14, 15 at the time -- what did they make of this? They were impressed?

WK: Yeah.

CA: And so what's your -- what are you going to do with this?

WK: Um --

CA: What do you -- I mean -- do you want to build another one?

WK: Yeah, I want to build another one -- to pump water and irrigation for crops.

CA: So this one would have to be bigger?

WK: Yeah.

CA: How big?

WK: I think it will produce more than 20 the watts.

CA: So that would produce irrigation for the entire village?

WK: Yeah.

CA: Wow. And so you're talking to people here at TED to get people who might be able to help in some way to realize this dream?

WK: Yeah, if they can help me with materials, yeah.

CA: And as you think of your life going forward, you're 19 now, do you picture continuing with this dream of working in energy?

WK: Yeah. I'm still thinking to work on energy.

CA: Wow. William, it's a real honor to have you at the TED conference. Thank you so much for coming.

WK: Thank you.


Video Details

Duration: 3 minutes and 54 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Producer: TEDTalks
Views: 480
Posted by: tedtalks on Dec 11, 2008

When he was just 14 years old, Malawian inventor William Kamkwamba built his family an electricity-generating windmill from spare parts, working from rough plans he found in a library book.

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