Biography of William Kamkwamba

When William Kamkwamba was 14, Malawi suffered a severe famine. His family could no longer pay his school fees, and he was forced to drop out of high school. While staying home, Kamkwamba remained curious and inventive and worked with the village librarian to stay engaged with his studies, especially science. Working from just a photo in a U.S. junior high school textbook book called “Using Energy,” he reasoned out how to build a windmill that could produce electricity from spare parts and scrap, despite having no instructions.

Kamkwamba's inspiring story is told in this New York Times bestselling memoir The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, co-authored with Bryan Mealer, and in the Netflix film adaptation, directed by Chiwetel Ejiofor, which was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Since its debut, Kamkwamba’s book has been published in 2 additional editions: a young readers' version and a children’s book. The autobiography has sold more than 1 million copies and been translated in nearly 20 languages worldwide. Kamkwamba has been featured on The Wall Street Journal, Nyasa Times, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer.

After graduating from Dartmouth College in Environmental Studies, Kamkwamba began work as a Global Fellow for the design firm IDEO. Kamkwamba is an entrepreneur and TED Fellow, and has worked with the WiderNet Project to develop appropriate technologies curriculums focused on bridging the gap between “knowing” and “doing” for young people in Malawi and across the world. Kamkwamba splits his time between the U.S. and Malawi and is currently working full-time with the Moving Windmills Project to bring the Moving Windmills Innovation Center to life in Kasungu, Malawi.​

Study Guides on Works by William Kamkwamba