William Kamkwamba, a man from Malawi was only fourteen when he built his first windmill powering his family’s home. Having only completed primary school, which ends at the eighth grade, William was able to look at pictures of wind turbines in an American book from his primary school’s library called Using Energy, and build a windmill out of “a broken bicycle, tractor fan blade, old shock absorber, and blue gum trees” (Williamkamkwamba.typepd.com). He was able to harness the energy from the wind to power light bulbs and mobile cell phones. After building his first windmill, he went on to build more windmills to bring electricity to his village for various uses. William went on to learn how to build solar powered systems, as well.
When One Laptop Per Child came to his village, the children were able to power their laptops because of him and his work. He created a system at the Wimbe Primary school which not only powered the laptops but allowed the students to be able to read at night (from having light!).
Malawi is a nation struggling with ICT development. With innovators like William Kamkwamba, Malawi has a chance to develop in its own way with ICT projects. The problem is that had William not developed those systems, the laptops from OLPC would not be able to operate for long. With this comes the question as to how significant these laptops are in the grand scheme of things in Malawi. Would it make more sense to develop projects like the solar and wind powered projects that William created or to make sure that every child has a laptop?
I think it is fairly clear that electricity is necessary for the laptops to even be considered as a solution; however, with the technology provided by the OLPC perhaps more children will be able to learn as William did and make positive changes in the development of their villages.
On another note, I think William also presents a good argument as to how these laptops can be very important when placed in the hands of a child. If William was able to create a windmill simply by looking at pictures in a book, there is no question that others like him can not only figure out how to use the XO laptops, but also use them to be innovative, as well.