The Malawian inventor William Kamkwamba, otherwise known as 'the boy who harnessed the wind' after his own memoir by the same name and the resulting movie starring renown actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, will be giving the keynote address at Malawi's annual Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI) summit. The summit will be held on November 13-14 at Bingu Conference Centre in Lilongwe.
Kamkwamba rose to fame for saving his village during drought—he used materials he had scavenged to build a windmill-powered electric water pump to irrigate their crops. His story circulated on blogs such as the Hacktivite blog, leading to him being invited to events such as the Maker Faire Africa Ghana 2009 event and conferences such as TEDGlobal 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania. Consequently, he got scholarships to the Africa Leadership Academy and to Dartmouth College. He later wrote his memoir which was adapted to a film. He has since gone on to build a solar-powered water pump that supplies the drinking water in his village, solar power and lighting for the six homes in his family compound, a drip irrigation system, malaria prevention, other wind turbines, and the outfitting of the village team Wimbe United with their first ever uniforms and shoes.
ATI Country Director, Dr Candida Nankhumwa, says this year’s summit will once again bring together key stakeholders from across the agriculture sector to discuss opportunities for economic diversification in Malawi.
The ATI statement reads, in part: “Participants will address the Summit’s theme, ‘The Role of Inclusive Science, Technology, and Innovation in Driving Agricultural Transformation’ and will also exchange ideas to help smallholder tobacco farmers transition to alternative livelihoods. This year, the summit will once again be hosted by renowned journalist Femi Oke. However this time, best-selling Malawian author William Kamkwamba will be in attendance to give the keynote speech and act as guest judge at the Centre for Agriculture Transformation’s Agricultural Technical (AgTech) Challenge Science Fair. The AgTech Challenge Science Fair, hosted by the Centre for Agriculture Transformation (CAT), will showcase primary, secondary and tertiary students who will present their innovations to address challenges faced by Malawian groundnut farmers. An expert judge panel will review and select the winning intervention that has the highest chance of commercialization. William Kamkwamba, who is also an inventor and farmer, has been mentoring the students and will act as a guest judge.”
The Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa; the president of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World Derek Yach; vice-president for agriculture and livelihoods, Jim Lutzweiler; ATI country director Dr Candace Nankhumwa, and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources Vice-Chancellor Prof. George Kanyama Phiri are expected to attend the summit.