Course I Summary Report
Soon after signing the contract with the local AKARARO asbl representative, a preliminary field visit was done on April 6th by the ITCO tech team in order to inquire about the location of the site and confirm the details of the equipment installation procedures. Shortly thereafter, installation of the classroom PV system was conducted at the MBUYE KIVOGA CENTER in MURAMVYA and tests were done on April 8th and 9th to ensure proper functionality of all components. Classes started on April 14th and began with student introduction and background sharing. On the same day, the main Instructor, Mr Adelin SIMBIZI NIBIZI also introduced himself, talked about his experience as a mechanical engineer specialized in Solar PV systems and ITCO as the organism he works for. He then gagged the level of proficiency of each student by providing them a quiz. The teacher also gave a brief introduction of the main topics of the course outline. On the second day, the instructor gave an introduction of the main PV systems components and the physics behind battery and panel coupling (in series and in parallel). Homework was given as the next meeting was going to be after the weekend.
On April 20th, Day 3 began with going through the assigned homework, a quiz, and then a Q&A session. Given that of the 10 students, half had a rather advanced understanding of electrical installations, it was agreed that the curriculum would be upgraded to provide in dept understanding of grid systems so as to challenge all the students while still helping the others raise their aptitudes to match their peers. Therefore, the second part of the physics review explored the subjects of energy production, PV cells, and short-circuit.
On the following day, the teacher spent time explaining the different functions of the Multimeter. Students had expressed a strong desire to reinforce their knowledge of this highly valuable tool for the installer/repairer. Thus, Mr NIBIZI explained in details the different uses of the tool with some real life applications of diagnostics.
Day 5 (April 22nd) was the first workshop for all 10 students in this class. It was mainly used up in identifying all the different tools and devices purchased and available at the center; and providing a brief explanation of the uses of each item. An assistant instructor, Mr Minerve, was also dispatched by ITCO in order to help the students with hands-on access to these items. The students were grateful to be able to not only see but also handle each tool while asking questions about each one. The third week began with April 27th lesson on the different types of cell coupling: series and parallel. At the cell level, students were exposed to these methods and their repercussion in the manufacturing of solar panels, battery banks and PV systems. The following day was a continuation of the lesson with an in-depth view of main systems components in light of these coupling types. Students had to learn the main types of each component and their affect on the system so that they may be able to make better choices in mixing and matching panels with batteries, controllers and inverters, etc. On April 28th, the teacher went through the different types of systems protection. He explained the need and advantages of protecting both the equipment and the circuit properly.
In the fourth week, learners were given a weeklong break and notes were provided in order to review the course so far and prepare for a quiz after class resumes on May 11th. As scheduled, the assessment on the first part of the curriculum was handed out after a short review and most students performed well on it. On the same day, Mr Adelin tought on the different types of electrical circuit (AC and DC). This lesson continued on May 12th in more details as it is crucial for each electrician to firmly understand the requirements of various types of lighting cabling. May 13th was a celebration of Ascension Day and Eid ul Filtr so class was not in session.
The fifth week started with a look at the role of appropriate cabling in installations. Students were shown how different cables serve specific purposes depending on where they are placed. The teacher demonstrated how the choice of cable based on type, width, resistivity, and isolation impacts the output and functionality of an installed PV system. In this course, he explained how to detect a short circuit, phase-ground contact fault, and similar types of installation issues, He also instructed about the need and appropriate way of grounding.
Another workshop was held a day later on May 19th where students were asked to construct up to five different types of circuit in order to get more acquainted with the processes. On May 20th, participants were introduced to the subject of entrepreneurship. They learned about the need for an entrepreneurship spirit as key to succeeding in any technical field based on the qualities of thriving businessmen: Creativity, willingness to learn and work hard, striving for structure while committing to continuous self-improvement.
On week 6, the course explored protection on the cell level as well as the types and use of lighting arrestors and comparable devices. The next day, on May 26th, the teacher expanded on systems design and then dove into the causes and way to handle shock by electrocution. Depending on the exposure, students need to know how to react to such events so as to avoid lesions and even death by controlling the environment (humidity, clothing, etc). The next day, participants continued learning about systems design through the functionalities of different components. They also were conversed about the systems management tools such as battery monitors and online systems management with remote access. As the course drew to its end, they were advised that a final test would be given the following week which would allow all with a passing grade to receive certification. A study guide was also delivered to each student so as to help with the preparation of the exam over the weekend.
On Tuesday June 1st, the instructor gave a lecture on important business concepts such as innovation, profitability, sustainability, and niche market assessment. Introduction to accounting and marketing notions was also discussed with guidelines to where to find out more information about company registration, having a good start and making informed decisions. The following day, the final assessment was successfully held, and all ten participants were certified as having passed the course. On June 3rd, the closing ceremony was held with congratulatory words from the staff and a celebration for the graduates.
All in all, the participants in this first session had a positive review of the course content. Even though most had technical or field experience, they were still challenged throughout the course and showed deep appreciation for the various topics included in the curriculum. The next class is scheduled to start on June 14th after an entrance exam is given to select the next participants.
As instructors, we are well pleased with the degree of involvement of these participants in the first class and the knowledge level attained by them in the short period of time spent in the program. In particular, we are happy that some who had prior installation experience were even inspired to go correct their previously installed systems so as to increase their capacity and/or safety. We are encouraged by the students who are now better equipped to do maintenance on existing solar installations and design tailored solutions to answer various client energy needs. This class has rightfully set a standard for all future program participants.
Course II Summary Report
After a short break, the team started a new session on June 15th with the second class of ten (10) participants. As with the first class, the teacher began with a get-to-know each other session. After the main instructor, each student had to introduce themselves, share their background, academic level, technical experience, and personal expectations for this training program. It is important in that it helps tailor the activities to the needs and requirements of many by accessing and working towards filling up any possible shortcomings of some of the participants. As such, an introductory course summary lecture was given on renewable energies in general with the main focus being solar energy.
The next morning, the subject taught was an introduction to photovoltaic energy systems. The teacher explained and exhibited the main components and their individual roles. A lot of questions were asked by the students and those without prior field experience got to see and hold the various equipments available for demo units.
The following day, June 17th, Mr. Adelin, the main instructor, exposed on inverters, explaining the types and how to differentiate them. Then he went on to discuss about photovoltaic cells and solar cells. One has to understand the physics behind each system type in order to make the right assessments and decisions in the choice of equipments and during diagnostics and/or maintenance.
On day 4, students were taught about PV cell combinations and then began with their first workshop. It was primarily to identify the main system components, and understanding the meaning of the technical specifications as written on each material. This is all the more important as KIVOGA center has a mixture of equipments and tools that even seasoned rural installers were not aware of. To be able to handle each component through hands-on training made this experience quite educational to the participants as opposed to seeing a picture on the screen or being given a verbal explanation; a great way to start the second week of classes.
On the 5th day, students continued their lesson on cell coupling, particularly the physics behind battery and panel coupling (in series and in parallel). They also went on to expand on systems component selection, and identification of tools and devices available at the center.
The day after, on June 24th, a quiz was given in order to check on students’ progress. Afterward, the instructor gave a lecture on one of the most important tools for an installer: the Multimeter. He explained some of the main functions and different uses of this tool with some real life diagnostics applications.
The third week began with June 29th lesson on the different types of electrical circuits (AC and DC) followed by an in-depth view of main systems components in lighting cabling. They needed to understand what and when lights go on and off in different scenarios. Also, they learned about wall socket install and troubleshooting.
On the 8th day, the course curriculum continued onto the different types of cables and systems protection. Participants learned about the need and advantages of protecting both the equipment and the circuit properly. July 1st was a national holiday so no classes held.
On July 6th, a workshop was organized in order to get hands-on experience by going through each part of the installation at the KIVOGA center. Students were then asked to prep their practice kits so as to start building their own demo installations.
The day after, Mr. Adelin continued to lecture on the main types of electrical circuits (AC and DC). This subject followed on July 7th in more details as it is essential for each electrician to firmly grasp the requirements of various types of lighting cabling.
Thursday July 8th was a quick change of pace with an introductory course to entrepreneurship by Mr. Berry. Participants were shown how business minded technicians can achieve more based on the acquired qualities such as creativity, willingness to learn and work hard, striving for structure while committing to continuous self-improvement.
A week of recess was held and notes were provided in order to review the course so far and prepare for a quiz after class resumes on July 20th.
On the above mentioned day, the assessment showed some differences in students levels which needed to be addressed. As such, the lecturer spent the rest of the day expanding on the basics of systems design for off-grid installations. The day after, on July 21st, another workshop was help in order to facilitate the visualization and practice of systems installations.
Knowing what to look for and having the right tools is only part of the recipe for success. Beyond knowledge and equipment, experience is key to efficient installations so students need to understand that practice does really make perfect, as the saying goes.
This experience was strengthened by a site visit to a PV system done by professionals at RNP Mbuye. There, the students saw yet another example of good installation practices.
On Thursday July 22nd, a second entrepreneurship course met on defining and selecting likely successful business ideas. Students were exposed to concepts of market research, competition, niche, and other useful ideas about drawing from the business world in order to succeed as a technician. Furthermore, they convened that knowing the rules and laws of the land ensures ongoing achievements.
In the last week of classes, Instructor Adelin assisted the learning team with a brief course summary coupled with several Q&A sessions so as to prepare for the final assessment. One more workshop was held in order to help those with less installation experience get comfortable with lights and socket installations.
Of the ten participants, seven passed the final exam and two failed. With one person dropping out, it is yet another testimony that becoming a solar PV systems installer is not as easy as it may sound. The teaching staff and supporting team are committed to providing a quality program and comprehensive knowledge that will help produce responsible technicians with an awareness of the right practices of producing quality installations and services. It is therefore better to certify few but capable technicians than compromise by accepting anything below what the first class managed to achieve, whoever hard it may be.
It is the sincere hope of all involved that excellence would go on to be the base value throughout this project and that graduates serve as true workforce ambassadors and advocates for future classes by the fruits they will have produced wherever they go next.
Class III Summary Report
Shortly after class II ended, another began on August 3rd with new participants. It was expected to be particular as it was mostly comprised of public school teachers. It was made to be intensive so as to equip them with comparable skill and knowledge levels as that of field technicians with installation capabilities, all that to be done before school year started.
As previously done, Mr. Adelin began with selection exam followed by a meet-andgreet session. Each participant got to share their background, academic level, technical experience, and personal expectations for this training program. As usual, teaching staff utilize this information to tailor the course beneficiaries’ needs and requirements. Therefore, it was understood that this class would require more hands-on activities in order to shorten the lead taken by those with more field experience.
On Wednesday August 4th, students were given a general introduction to the world of renewable energies. The talk was followed by a preliminary discourse on photovoltaic energy systems. The lecturer addressed the different reasons why PV systems ware most suited to the Burundi and East African context. Also, the learners were shown the main PV systems components and their attributes.
The following day, August 5th, Mr. Adelin taught on inverters, explaining the types and the characteristics used in order to set them apart. Then he went on to lecture about photovoltaic cells in order to deepen students’ understanding the physics behind each energy system. This is especially important during systems design, diagnostic and/or maintenance.
On day 4, participants studied PV cell combinations and did their first workshop. During group exercises, they were tasked to identify the main system components, and explain the meaning of the technical descriptions written on the equipments. Beyond seeing pictures of them, physically handling them at the AKARARO center gave the students a broader understanding of these elements.
Second week of classes began with a review of PV systems components. As the previous session was a first for some attendants seeing and handling items such inverters, charge controllers, or junction boxes, the instructor took time to go through each of the parts in more details so as to help ground the participants’ comprehension. Thus each individual was given an opportunity to explore and ask questions, doing so in an open workshop format.
On Wednesday, students were taught about the Multimeter. For electricians, this may be the most important tool to know about. If operated correctly, it makes an unequalled difference during installation and maintenance through its data collection capabilities. Through an exercise format, the teacher was able to communicate some of the most important features of this device and how helpful it can be as related to each main PV system component.
The next day, Mr. Adelin lectured on electrical diagrams for lighting installations for the most common categories: simple lighting, two-way lighting, and double two-way lighting. In addition to the drawings explained, a functional demo unit was assembled for the students to have a deeper understanding of these different scenarios.
On Friday the 14th, the curriculum continued onto the different types of cables and systems protection. Attendants learned about the need and advantages of proper protection throughout the system from energy production to its consumption. Later, a site visit was also organized by ITCO teaching staff in order for participants to see more examples of operational PV energy systems and get additional field experience.
Day 9 was held on Tuesday August 18th. The blitz day was mainly to provide practical training on electrical multi-wire diagrams. Installations simulations were made to mimic what the students would encounter on the field as maintainers and/or installers. This lesson remains one of the most important hands-on sessions as it attempts to cut the core of what many installers do wrong for lack of knowledge in order to minimize avoidable incidents.
The next two days, the instructor taught on electrification, electrocution, and what to do in case of an electricity-related accident. Though a technician’s discipline is in their careful assessment and execution of installations, the rare occurrences of accidents need to be addressed swiftly and correctly. Thus participants were taught the best way to react in order to avoid extensive damages and even death in the most extreme circumstances.
On Friday August 21st and the following Tuesday, hands-on sessions continued with the subject matter of proper install of lights and wall sockets. As mentioned before, some classmates had little to no previous technical experience. Since many tend to agree that practice makes perfect, the teaching staff concluded that these elementary school teachers would certainly benefit from more practical exercises.
On day 14, the teaching electrical engineer proceeded with an in-depth review and demonstration of how to install a two-way lighting. The complexity of the wiring involved required the instructor to slowly explain and demonstrate the process multiple times. Afterwards, it was up to those being educated to build their own models in teams of two.
The next morning, Mr. Berry lectured on the basics of entrepreneurship. It was important to challenge each scholar to develop business-minded qualities such as creativity, willingness to learn and work hard, striving for structure while committing to continuous selfimprovement. This quick change of pace and subject provided somewhat of a break from the heavy technical training by shifting onto the business side of project management duties which each installer/technician has to consider to be successful.
On Friday the 28th, it was back to dealing with double two-way lighting for the students as they continued to build their own functioning mini-systems. In the subsequently session, they got to add an inverter into the mix so as to go from DC to AC lighting and add a socket for charging cell-phones.
On the 1st September, a final evaluation was held in the form of a written exam. Fortunately, all participants received passing grades. On the 2nd, another trainer came back for an additional lecture on entrepreneurship. He gave pointers on how to select and access likely successful business ideas and projects. Afterwards, he lectured on business concepts such as market research, competition, niche, and others to be considered to improve as a technician. Furthermore, he addressed need to know the rules and regulation of the country and county to ensure ongoing achievements in any field of work. Finally, he provided pointers for where to find more information on registering a business entity.
In dealing with teachers as students, it was expected that the absorption capacity would be higher than that of previous classes. However, knowing in theory and taking a screwdriver to get down to handy workmanship are dissimilar endeavors. It was all the more important for these cautiously picked participants to receive proper and transferable capabilities seeing as they hold positions where they can greatly impact the youth.
The commencement ceremony was held on Friday September 3rd where certificates of course completion were handed out to each graduate, and a celebration followed after as with previous classes. What an amazing opportunity to teach teachers who are interested in acquiring technical skills and are already committed toward helping the next generation. It is the expectation of all involved in this project that more than any previous participants, these later participants would impact the community all the more.
Class IV Summary Report
With the renewed resolve to better each class session, the staff took about three weeks off to improve on the material for the fourth and last group of the year. Each member took it to heart to use the input from past participants to gradually better the experience of newcomers. And so classes began on Tuesday September 28th with an upgraded entrance exam followed by the classic meet-and-greet session.
Each participant was asked to share their background, expectations for this training program, and aspirations for the future beyond this course. Having had a lot of interactions with teachers from the previous class, it was evident that the attendees had to be reminded that they are in this intensive program for a limited time and should aim to make the best of this opportunity and think beyond the class to maximize its utility after the training has ended.
On the second day, the master teacher introduced the students to the world of renewable energies. An abbreviated overview on photovoltaic energy systems, components, and attributes was given in order to give a cram session to those less knowledgeable on the subject and clarify certain terms to those already acquainted with basic PV systems.
The day after, on the 30thof September, the instructor educated the students on workings of inverters by explaining the types and the characteristics which differentiate them. He then went on to lecture on photovoltaic cells in order to deepen students’ understanding the physics behind each PV energy system as with previous classes.
Starting with the second week, participants studied PV cell combinations and did their first workshop. During group exercises, they were tasked to identify system components, and learned to use the right vocabulary to explain the equipments technical descriptions. Beyond seeing and handling the tools and parts (some for the first time) , each student needed to increase his/her awareness of the how and why of each component down to the choice and usefulness of the metal or plastic components.
Another overview of PV systems components took place the very next day on October 6th. As the previous day was a first for a few participants, another detailed look at inverters, then charge controllers, and their main attributes was used to help ground the learners’ comprehension. Thus each individual was given a comprehensive workshop opportunity to explore thoroughly and ask questions before moving on to the next subject.
On Thursday October 7th, students were introduced to one of the most important tools for an electrician: the Multimeter. If operated properly, it makes for an unequalled difference during installation and maintenance through its data collection capabilities. By giving them multiple small exercises/quizzes, the teacher was able to share most of the important features of this device and how helpful it can be as related to each of the main PV system components they got to handle throughout them courses.
The third week began with Mr. Adelin’s lecture on electrical diagrams for lighting installations for the most common occurrences: simple lighting, two-way lighting, and double two-way lighting. In addition to the drawings and schematics explained, a functional demo unit was put together with the students so that they are shown all the building steps.
October 13th was a public holiday in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the assassination of Prince Louis RWAGASORE. The day after, the curriculum continued onto the different types of cables and systems protection. Participants were taught about the need and benefits of proper protection throughout the system from energy production to its consumption. Due to the dangers of working with and around electrified objects, students have to increase their awareness of the risks involved and develop safe habits.
Therefore, Day 9 was held on Tuesday October 19th. This being one of the most important hands-on sessions, its aim is to avoid bad installation behaviors for lack of knowledge in order to minimize avoidable incidents. The instructor taught on electrification, electrocution, and what to do in case of an electricity-related accident. Any such occurrences need to be addressed swiftly and correctly. All the way to the following day, students were continuously shown examples of the proper way to react in order to avoid extensive damages and even death in the most extreme case scenarios.
Thursday October 21st was yet another public holiday, remembering another fallen hero, President Pierre NDADAYE. Homework was given to the participants in order to confirm status progress in the coursework.
On the 11th day, a site visit was organized by the teaching staff in order for students to experience more operational PV energy systems. Learners interacted with the users and each other by gathering information about the different system functions. They saw firsthand the necessity to understand the installations, communicate good usage practices to the end-users, and have a thorough maintenance schedule.
The next two sessions focused on hands-on sessions with the subject matter of proper install of lights and wall sockets. As most classmates had limited technical experience, the staff utilized these practical exercises so as to strengthen the technical capabilities of each member. Participants spent these two days assembling and disassembling lights, thus practicing how they would execute installations in houses and offices.
On Tuesday November 2nd, the instructor agreed to the students’ request to have more practice time and proceeded with an in-depth review and demonstration of how to install twoway lighting. The complexity of the wiring involved required the engineer to slowly explain and demonstrate the process to the learners. The day after, it was up to those being educated to successfully build their own models in teams of two.
On the 14th day of classes, the students executed the install of a long electrical line to be used to power an AC mill at the AKARARO Center. This exercise, though supervised by the teaching engineer, was entirely done by the students in order to push them to think over questions about cable type and fixation, wire support and protection, machinery phase input, breaker sizing, etc. They got to use specialized equipment in the available master toolbox while inquiring about the standard practices and guidelines around such work.
The following morning, another instructor lectured on the basics of entrepreneurship. The teaching staff felt strongly that each scholar needed to develop business-minded qualities such as creativity, willingness to learn and work hard, striving for structure while committing to continuous self-improvement. Students had some difficulty at first adjusting to the change of topic so it was decided to slow down a bit to allow them to absorb all these new concepts.
On Wednesday November 9th, the theme of entrepreneurship followed the lines of essential subjects that needed to be addressed. Attendees need not only rely on their newly acquired technical knowledge but also have to reach and convince potential clients, organize themselves into entities such as private firms, market themselves effectively, comply with the rules and regulations of the country, learn where to start and get advice from in order to open and operate a successful business.
Thursday November 11th was the final written evaluation. The commencement ceremony was held on the day after and certificates of course completion were handed out to each graduate with a passing grade, and a celebration followed after as with previous classes.
If this were the end, then it would have been just like all the previous sessions. However, this group went beyond the staff’s expectations. They materialized what was the program’s aspiration by connecting with graduates from previous sessions and created an organization of technicians which now has been recognized by the local authorities and is a legally registered business entity in Burundi. In it, these young men and women have put together their resources to purchase stock, produce a marketing strategy geared towards activities involving the local population to increase product and service visibility and popularity. This is a first, not only in MBUYE county, but in the entire Province of MURAMVYA; a testimony to the potential of this program as it is being recognized by local authorities and news outlets.
It has been a refreshing sight to see year-long effort yield such vivid results do so and in time for the Level 2 course programed early next year. This robust course aims to build upon the foundation laid out with the first curriculum with extensive knowledge for the top students selected from the first four groups of graduates.
Advanced Level II Class I Summary Report
After three months break, the teaching staff and project representatives gathered the best two or three of each of the previous four classes to come back for the new curriculum prepared. This session had to be unique for multiple reasons. Firstly, level I graduates went back into the world to start using the learned skills and quickly identified several shortcomings. After receiving their feedback, this class was redesigned to address some of the difficulties they faced. Secondly, the staff agreed on focusing on those who had shown both the capacity and drive to push forward and better their craft. Therefore, the material contained quite complex subjects so as to daily challenge the attendees. Thirdly, the class was put together in a way to guide the students to work together to bring out their combined capacities to start making way for the newly created cooperative, of which they all became members.
Thus classes started on March 8th with a review of the inner workings and types of solar modules. Students were reminded of the differences in PV cells, panel manufacturing processes and their effect on equipment quality. In this way, they can quickly decide on the best option for their clients and installations. The following day, attendees dove deeper into battery types and voltage selection for off-grid sites. Later that week, on Thursday March 10, they learned about manual changeover switches and their installation process. More than before, residential and commercial types require these rather than separated DC or AC lights.
In the second week, the main instructor continued on the lesson and practical exercises on how to install DC inverters and manual changeover switches. Indeed, more customers with recently built houses and offices do not want additional wiring which often is less functional, difficult to hide (apparent), and so esthetically less visually pleasing. For PV systems and Diesel generators combinations, these switches are a must. The day after, on the morning of the 16th, the teacher lectured on the subject of solar charge controllers. He taught on the more common PWM devices and on the added benefits of MPPT controllers, not forgetting to demonstrate their differences. The following date, attendees were exposed to the principles of hybrid and solar inverters. As the newest technology trends consider the added effect of daytime-only power production and supply, students were made aware of these possibilities which present particular solutions to an increasing number of users. Soon, they may find themselves in situations where they have to present these types of solutions to their potential customers. On that day, students were also impacted by the discourse on cable section selection with the discovery of an app which can assist them in verifying their choices.
The third week started with the subject which most students had questions about; namely how to design off-grid small and mid-size PV and energy back-up systems. The teacher spent all week sharing the most common methods to do so. Students learned the math and sequence to find daily power consumption, to identify fixed and variable elements, and why to confirm the battery capacity first. From there, they may find out the proper number of panels needed, the type and capacity of the solar controller, and finally which inverter may be selected to effectively get the best output and thus the most efficient solution with the available materials.
In the fourth week, the students went back to performing practical maintenance exercises. They properly cleaned the solar equipments, starting with the panels at the AKARARO learning center, and were shown then how to check that the other equipment is operating smoothly. On the 30th day of March, students went for site visits and performed a full maintenance protocol by themselves, under the supervision of the teaching instructor. The recipients of maintenance were very appreciative of the work done by the students and understood that this service should be compensated in the future. On Thursday, attendees went on to do more practical exercises in order to strengthen their systems design and installation skills.
The following week, starting with April 5th, student executed on the extension of the electrical system installed at the AKARARO center. Throughout the week, each student did a portion of the cables and accessories installation for more practical experience, benefiting from the knowledge and advice of the main instructor in order to get down the best practices during site installations. Attendees were able to ask questions, review and correct their peers’ work as necessary. By collaborating with each other, they benefited a lot from this shared experience in a controlled environment.
The last week of the session was dedicated to addressing specific challenges observed in their entrepreneurship and organizational skills. By this time, all students understood that besides technical capabilities, they also needed to rely more on their marketing talents and networking abilities to attract potential clients and close sales. The instructing team’s
responsibility was to guide the group to build overall cohesion and focus on expanding visibility. Thus the discussion started with a review of the classification of organizations. Then the teacher spent time showing how to access and analyze the working environment, define the basic needs and clients profile. Exercises on focused brainstorming were done, leading to basic knowledge on how to conduct a financial study of a potential project. Attendees needed to see how these concepts can be applied in their daily lives, especially when they are putting together a Proforma Invoice for a potential customer.
The next day, the discussion topic was management with a deeper look at their newly established organization. Based on the previously acquired information, students were able to see how to resolve some of the issues they faced at the establishment of the cooperative. They also reviewed together how to set goals and rightly utilize constructive criticism during meetings. On Thursday April 14th, the trainer introduced Pay-as-you-go technology in the form of ANGAZA. With this being one of the leading online platforms, the students were given opportunities to handle the App version, register clients and complete sales using the various programs tailored to the customers in rural areas. Shortly thereafter, an agreement was reached between the students and a local solar home systems (SHS) distributor. Later on, an
MOU was signed between the agency APM and the distributor to purchase a dozen units on credit, with the facilitation of AKARARO staff. Students were quite enthusiastic about the possibilities offered by this tool to apply all that they have learned and reach a new segment of the population. Final examination was held on April 19th and a graduation ceremony the day after. All students passed this time around and the staff is thrilled with the results.
Suffice it to say that this long awaited advanced program accomplished most of what it set out to do. Ongoing monitoring of the graduates is being conducted by the instructing team and more needs to be done. Still, signs of APM cooperative producing fruit are already seen through the selling of half the SHS within the first few days and the increasing interest for solar installs in the MURAMVYA area. With the opening of their store, the alumnae are hoping to be able to promptly stand on their feet as they continue to build upon the received support and skills. Though more efforts are required to bring the organization to selfsustainability, all parties involved expect a brighter future for the graduates as they strive to carve their place in the renewable energy market.
Since last year, young men and women have been trained at the AKARARO center over the course of a year. As they head back into the world, finding ways to utilize the skills they learned came with its own set of challenges. Fortunately, they had already set up an organization which provided a platform to stay in touch, meet often, and work together towards finding solutions to said problems.
On the technical side, the members of the cooperative wanted to find more opportunities to hone their new learned abilities. However, they quickly realized that they first need to have a local address in a shop/office format so that they may showcase product samples to allow for interested buyers to better understand the value brought by the graduates. And so they did!
Earlier this year, the offices and shop of the cooperative opened their doors and those with inquiries can walk in during working hours to always find someone to welcome them. Articles for sell are still very few as the team depends on members’ contributions and dues from gains on overhead. Most of the time, members need to buy the equipment elsewhere if a quotation is approved by a client. The wish is to slowly build up stock while waiting on an opportunity to get a loan or a grant in order to increase the scope of the product offering.
The cooperative’s main objectives is to impact the nearby community by developing its own shop for solar equipment, providing quality products and services ranging from installation to maintenance and evaluation, and training other youth in the skills of electrical PV installation, thus creating employment opportunities for many.
Another challenge related to stock has to do with having the tools to perform the work well.
Most members have little to no equipment and often have to borrow fellow technicians or the AKARARO Center. This often leads to installation delays and added costs. The members are reaching out to different parties to ask for support so that each technician may have a starter kit with all the necessary tools required by most professional installers.
It is important to point out that the capacity to help install a solar PV system in a country which over 80% of the population has yet to be connected to the national grid is a skill with high demand. And so more young men and women want to learn but the graduates need the tools and funds to properly share their knowledge. The cooperative wishes to start learning activities lead by the most outstanding graduates as now formers for the new generation of technicians.
The next page provides a list of tools which is included in each started kit set and its cost. Having learned the skills to work hard to find their own livelihood, the kit is as important to each of the graduates as a hoe is to the farmer, and a pen and paper to a student. In the same manner, teaching more individuals will broaden the reach of the organization and potentially create hundreds of jobs in the next five years. In a country where about 40% of the population is between the ages of 15 and 40 years old with an unemployment rate of 1.8, initiatives such as these should be encouraged and supported. Course needs are low and can be adapted as funds are made available.
Promoting Solar Energy in the municipality of Mbuye and the surrounding area through the supervision of women’s and youth organisations supported by DUSABIKANE/AKARARO
|Budget Code||Onderwerp||Budget||Uitgaven in Euros||Saldo||Percent age|
|001||Organization of an Meeting information to the supported organizations||139||–||139||0%|
|002||Organization of an information meeting to the administration||139||261||– 122||188%|
|003||Recruiting and selection of groups woman and youngsters||416||327||89||79%|
|004||Development of training modules for train the trainer course for instructors and for star 1 and star 2 training for youngsters||5 988||5 341||647||89%|
|005||Training Manual Production/Printing||333||324||9||97%|
|006||Rental of Materials for training||3 233||3 330||– 97||103%|
|007||Costs for experts for training and advice for establishment solar centre||22 169||21 182||987||96%|
|008||Installation Solar trainings Center||25 356||26 471||– 1 115||104%|
|009||Project coordinator costs||1 847||1 757||90||95%|
|010||Project Accountant Fees||1 293||1 230||63||95%|
|011||Transport costs equipment materials||7 390||7 577||– 187||103%|
|012||Transportation costs of people||2 365||2 319||46||98%|
|013||Fuel costs for transportation||1 856||1 842||14||99%|
|015||Bank fees||443||998||– 555||225%|
|Total||73 152||73 091||61||100%|
|Andere Nederlandse donateurs||73 152,00|
|Lokale en nationale autoriteiten||–||–||–|
|Eigen financiële bijdragen||–||–||–|
|Totale inkomsten||73 152,00||–||–|