In the heart of the land of a thousand hills, a transformative journey unfolds.
22nd – 24th August 2023 marked the inception of an extraordinary venture, a game-changing training program destined to reshape the energy landscape. Its mission: to shatter the barriers to solar power adoption and illuminate the lives of the women in Rwanda and their communities.
This audacious initiative, nestled within the halls of Strathmore University, is a collaborative brainchild of the UNESCO Chair on Climate Change Resilience and Sustainability, and the Africa Energy Services Group (AESG) Ltd in Kigali. It had the unwavering support of Kawisafi Technical Assistance Facility as project funders. Together, the organizations are daring to dream of brighter futures, under the African sun.
The plan is ambitious. A training program launching in September 2023 aims to empower 150 women, mostly from low-income backgrounds. These women, the backbone of their communities, are destined to become skilled solar photovoltaic (PV) technicians. Their mission after training? To bring light where it is needed most, and spark a green revolution in Rwanda’s energy sector.
The Land of Sunshine
A nation eager to diversify its energy sources, Rwanda’s potential for solar power is staggering. With abundant sunshine, the promise of renewable energy is beckoning. Anne Wacera, Head of Electrification and Electricity Access at the UNESCO Chair in Strathmore, is leading this project. Passionate about the empowerment of women in the energy sector, she drew inspiration from similar cases of success in Kenya. She envisions the replication of this triumph in Rwanda.
Elyse Dushimirimana from AESG, a woman who has scaled her own heights in the energy sector, is looking forward to a future where more families, especially the vulnerable ones, can access and maintain solar systems.
The training program has meticulously designed modules that combine technical prowess with essential soft skills. Among the trainees, 45 women will be designated as the ‘trainers of trainers’, ensuring the sustainability of this vital project.
Annuarita Gatesi, one of the applicants, expressed her enthusiasm. “I am keen to learn how to design and maintain a solar PV system,” she exclaimed.
Impact Beyond Imagination
The anticipated impact of this project is profound. It promises economic empowerment, gender equality, community development, and social transformation. Strathmore University is also committed to providing solar training kits and materials to select technical training institutions in Rwanda. This gesture will enable the institutions to continue training women in the future, creating a ripple effect of empowerment.
To help in institutionalizing the training project, the team spent some time engaging with key stakeholders, including the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), and the University of Rwanda. Both institutions embraced the training initiative with open arms.
Alexis Mutware, Director of Electricity & Renewable Energy at RURA, emphasized the alignment of their goals with the project. “We are very much interested in increasing the number of certified solar PV technicians who can support us in our plans.”
Sylvie Isingizwe, Deputy CEO of AESG Ltd, spoke passionately about closing the gender gap;
In the hills of Rwanda, under the African sun, a brighter future is emerging, one empowered by women, illuminated by knowledge, and fueled by renewable energy. Rwanda is ready to shine.
This story was written by Victor Anyura
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