Monday, 09 Jul, 2007 Technology

There Are Successful Bloggers in Africa Too


An African student from Malawi has become a successful blogger just two weeks after he had seen the internet for the first time. William Kamkwamba got an opportunity to surf the net when he attended a TEDGlobal conference in Arusha, Tanzania, aimed to promote new ideas in the technology, design and entertainment fields. The 19-year-old high-school student was invited to the conference to share his personal experience of designing and building a windmill completely on his own.

Kamkwamba left school when he was 14 as his family was not able to afford the school fees. The boy built his first windmill using a book on electricity, plastic piping and some other objects. The windmill generated enough power to provide lighting in his room.

The student's second windmill is larger. It applies a bicycle for greater efficiency and generates power for his parents' house. William also uses it for charging car batteries or mobile phones for other villagers. For his achievements, the boy was invited to take part in the second TEDGlobal conference. He held a three-minute presentation about his windmill construction and was awarded with a standing ovation from everyone present on the conference.

At the conference, the student saw the Internet for the first time and started Google-searching for information on windmills and solar energy. William was amazed and excited by the amount of information returned for his search. He was deeply impressed by the speed at which he received the necessary information using the internet.

When the African student returned home in Malawi, he redesigned his second windmill applying the new knowledge on wind-powered electricity found on the net. The boy created his own blog, William Kamkwamba's Malawi Windmill, which provides step-by-step photos of the windmill construction process. The blog has attracted interest of Internet users worldwide. It is remarkable that a Google search for Kamkwamba's name generates over 20,000 results, following just a few weeks his story spread outside his village.

William Kamkwamba is one of those Africans, who make up the 'cheetah' generation not counting on the government support or aid organizations to achieve their goals. William received assistance from US-based Tom Rielly, TED's director of partnerships and the student's mentor. Rielly visited William and helped him to establish the blog and typed the content dictated by the student. Supported by friends, William also created an email address and an account on Flickr. The US sponsors of the conference donated a computer for him.

In future the African student wants to learn to do the research through the Internet in order to design a water pump powered by his windmill. This way he hopes to have water from the well in his family's house and irrigate the fields.

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