If you’ve been reading AfriGadget for a while, you know of a name that keeps popping up over and over – William Kamkwamba. He was first written about by another blogger friend Mike McKay and then subsequently covered here on AfriGadget a good 3 years ago. His windmills and the story behind it are an inspiration for many. There is now a book, a documentary and a foundation all set up around the inspired story of windmills from Malawi.
Win a copy of “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”
As luck would have it, I have 2 extra copies of William’s new book. I’d like to share that with you, the readers of the blog. To do that, I want to challenge you to send in an AfriGadget-like story, picture or video. Just write it and attach the pictures in an email to email@example.com. I’ll review them and pick the ones that I think best fits the blog. It’ll be posted here with attribution to you.
We’ve got two weeks until Oct 31, so I’ll give one book away each week. Let’s see what you’ve got! And, yes, I’ll mail the book anywhere in the world.
Note: the best AfriGadget stories come with pictures, so make sure you send those in as well.
William in the news
He’s been doing his book tour in the US this month, hitting some pretty big shows, including ABCs Good Morning America and the Daily Show with John Stewart (videos below).
Dr. Cedrick Ngalande is an inventor. He’s been working on inventing new ways for everyday rural Africans to create enough electricity to power items like mobile phones or other small electrical devices. In the past, he’s been on AfriGadget for his yeast + sugar rotary electricity generator.
Today he has announced a new project called Green Erg, which harnesses (literally) a person’s movement energy to create electricity.
“This is basically a dynamo which is being driven as a result of friction between the ground and the blocks. The small yellowish blocks (these are covered by rubber in the real commercial product) rotate as you pull it. They are designed to rotate even on bumpy run even roads. We have tested it on moist lawn and have worked. It is very smooth so much that you basically don’t feel any disturbance as
you move along.
At normal walking speeds we have gotten more than 2 watts which is more than enough for running cell phones or radios. I envision that people will attach this to themselves and walk with it – or even attach it to an ox-cart, a skating board, bike, etc.”
Here’s an interesting simple, low-maintenance technology:
“Elephant Pumps” that were introduced to rural areas in Zimbabwe and Malawi during the last few years. These rather simple, enhanced rope pumps (based on an ancient Chinese technology) where designed for use in rural areas, where the supply of readymade spare parts isn’t that easy.
Now, what makes the Elephant Pump so different from the other popular low-maintenance pump “Afripump” is that it’s locally assembled and maintainable by the local community. Both systems – Afripump and Elephant Pump – may have their pro & cons (80-100m depth, high durability, low-maintenance vs. <40m depth, simple design, cheaper), but I especially like the “bicycle option” added to pumps which were built for schools:
On school pumps Pump Aid often incorporates a “bicycle” system onto the Elephant Pump since this has proved enormously popular with children. Most children in Zimbabwe have never had the chance to ride a bicycle so can even come to school early to “play” on the pump thereby helping to fill the school water tanks. The job of collecting water, once a tiresome chore, becomes fun and children no longer have to leave their classrooms to walk miles carrying buckets of water on their heads from a distant muddy pool.
The British Charity Org “Pump Aid“, which has in the past introduced and promoted these systems in Zimbabwe and Malawi for the costs of GBP 250 (~ USD 460, EUR 310) each, also created a very informative video on how the technology actually works:
“The Elephant Pump yields about one litre of clean water every second for an average well depth of 20 metres.”
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