Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Windmills on My Mind

I hope to meet Ethan Zuckerman, who has been a driving force behind bridge blogging and Global Voices, when I start my Nieman year at Cambridge. In the meantime, I've been lurking on Zuckerman's personal blog--soaking up his coverage of the TED Global meeting earlier this month in Arusha.

While the pointed--and seemingly endless--debate over the value of development aid between Bono and Uganda journalist Andrew Mwenda electrified the e-pundits, Zuckerman has zeroed in on the ingenuity of William Kamkwamba, a young man in Malawi who built a windmill out of discarded items on his family's farm to run a radio and a few other items.

Kamkwamba is surely a young man worth watching--and we may all get a chance to do just that by reading his posts on William Kamkwamba's Malawi Windmill blog.

But it also has me wondering whether wind has been overlooked in the race to find appropriate electrical generation technology for very poor countries? Today's standard-issue solutions favor hydroelectric and coal plants. Visionaries in the northern hemisphere tout solar panels--most of which have to be engineered elsewhere.

And what about the wind? Can windmills really be a cottage industry, with all parts made locally, thereby boosting local economies? Something to think about.


ethanz said...

Looking forward to meeting you as well, Christine. I'm in Cambridge on Tuesdays, at the lunch series at the Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, 12:30. Come by to one of the lunches and we'll meet there.

Christine Gorman said...

It's a date!