Malawi’s inspirational young genius, William Kamkwamba, the hot subject of the award-winning book and global Netflix feature film, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, delivered a keynote address at the Scotland Malawi Partnership’s renewable energy forum on Tuesday at Edinburgh City Chambers in Scotland.
The forum brought together industry leaders and practitioners from the renewable energy sector currently working between Scotland and Malawi.
The Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) is a national civil society network coordinating, supporting and representing the people-to-people links between the two nations.
It represents a community of 109,000 Scots with active links to Malawi
and has over 1,000 stakeholder partners including half of Scotland’s local authorities, every Scottish university and most of its colleges, 200 primary and secondary schools, dozens of different churches and faith-based groups, hospitals, businesses, charities and NGOs, and a wide range of grass-root community-based organisations.
Kamkwamba was invited to speak of his remarkable journey which led him in 2008 to establish the Moving Windmills Project, a non-profit corporation which he created to pursue rural economic development and education projects in Malawi.
The SMP’s Renewable Energy Forum was initiated in response to the suggestion of its members from multiple institutions working in this sector between Scotland and Malawi, who see value in sharing information, expertise, challenges, lessons learned and opportunities.
It was launched on 7th March 2019 in the Edinburgh City Chambers and comprises ex-Malawi missionaries, ex-school teachers, volunteers, ex-government workers and some who just visited Malawi as tourists.
Kamkwamba was also invited to the launch of SMP’s first ever School Partnership Awards on Thursday, which has been supported by the Year of Young People National Lottery fund and the David Livingstone Birthplace Project.
It aims to celebrate the variety of school partnerships with Malawi across Scotland.
Two other Malawians living in Scotland, Nathaniel Chalamanda working for Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and Alpheus Ngonga, the secretary of Society of Malawians in Scotland, attended the meeting as solidarity to Kamkwamba’s visit.
Chalamanda said he was invited to give a 5-minute talk about what he does in his day to day work at the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (www.sepa.org.uk).
“I took the opportunity to raise an awareness from my perspective as a Malawian living in Scotland and having a bit of exposure of the two worlds/perspectives,” said the Kamuzu Academy alumni.
“My main points were that Malawi’s challenges cannot be solved in isolation — energy separated from other causes — it needs integrated approach including the expertise available locally.
“I gave the example of waste management, which could produce organic manure and other wastes with high calorific value, (like the plastics) might produce energy while solving the waste issue as well as sanitation which directly affects water supply and agriculture.”
He explained that there was need to involve local experts in Malawi, rather than donors being locked in their own silo of the projects that they have given funding for not knowing if local expertise could add more efficiency.
“I gave them an example that Kamuzu Academy alumni comprise a lot of experts who are not interested in receiving bribes or kickbacks in order to perform national duties — they have the welfare of our nation’s future at heart.
“Such experts could be influential in a non-political but technical way.
“I was encouraged by the idea of a directory of the companies involved here in SMP and, in my head, I am thinking of pushing for similar action plan from the Malawi perspective so that when these groups come up with projects they know who to contact from a common pool of experts and interested people etc.
“I am still thinking about how to make this work without raising too much expectations from people,” Chalamanda said.
He said he joined SMP because they have done well in as far as assisting Malawi social and economic development.
“Malawi is one of very few countries assisted by Scotland, but also ‘adopted’ by a lot of Scottish communities carrying out local project in Malawi.
“Most projects are usually initiated by people who were attached to an area when they were in Malawi and once they come back home they mobilise their friends, schools, churches and other interested wellwishers to help.”
The SMP website says they exist to inspire the people and organisations of Scotland to be involved with Malawi in an informed, coordinated and effective way for the benefit of both nations.
They do this by harnessing experience, expertise and enthusiasm across Scotland and providing forums where ideas, activities and information can be shared between our members.
Their work isn’t just about ‘international development’, with donors on one side and recipients on the other — it’s about partnership, about joint working, and about friendship.
“Our project is to build connections and collaboration on a multi-sectoral basis between two small nations in ways that are transformational for both,” says the website.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :