It has long since been said by everyone’s parents and grandparents that, with a little bit of willpower, we can do anything. This much is certainly true for Colrerd Nkosi.
Nkosi comes from a small village in Malawi. In this area, most homes do not have electricity—in fact, Malawi is one of the world’s least electrified countries. People work by the sun or candlelight. For many, this was an inevitable way of life, but when Nkosi returned to his village after secondary school, he knew it didn’t need to be.
Though Nkosi is not an engineer by trade, he is determined to make a difference. It took a great deal of experimenting to find something that would supply electricity, and a lightbulb went off in his mind when he put a bicycle in the river and saw the current was strong enough to push the pedals. If it could be used to push the gears of a bicycle, it could certainly be used for something else.
The river that supplies Nkosi’s turbine. Credit: El Universo.
“I started getting requests for electricity (and) decided to upgrade,” Colrerd Nkosi says.
Working entirely out of pocket, Nkosi initially used an old refrigerator compressor as a makeshift dynamo, which converted enough energy to power six homes. Upon hearing what Nkosi had accomplished, neighbors came clambering to charge their phones and ask what his next plans were.
It took some time, but he found something that worked: an old machine used to skim kernels of corn off the cob. The power is carried along metal cables over a one-mile radius to supply electricity to all in the village who need it. He is even considering installing another turbine to potentially supply the next town over.
“There is the potential to produce enough power for 1,000 households from that single turbine, and I can use the same river to power another turbine downstream,” says Nkosi.
Nkosi working on his power grid. Credit: EuroNews.
Colrerd Nkosi’s story.
In setting up grids across the area, Nsoki looks forward to eliminating the need to cut down trees for charcoal. On top of the positive environmental impact, Nsoki is changing lives. In supplying electricity to his neighbors for free, he makes tasks like cooking and studying far simpler.
“In the past we had to study by candlelight, and whenever there was no money to buy candles, we could not study,” a local student says. “Now that we have access to electricity, many more of us will pass our exams.”
His selfless act has caught the eye of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth the II, who awarded Nkosi the Point of Life Award in 2018. While humbled by the gesture, it isn’t recognition he wants. What he wants is a sponsor to fulfill his plan of going back to school. He hopes to gain the knowledge he needs to pass the torch to others in the village.
Nkosi and his turbine. Credit: The Herald.
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