Kenya. One year of sustainable future with the Micro-Grid Academy sponsored by Enel Green Power

Date 23.01.2019

Our Micro-Grid Academy turns one and is ready for more in 2019. RES4Africa, of which Enel Green Power is a founder, sponsors the initiative in collaboration with local companies, universities and NGOs. It aims to train young Africans to plan, manage and maintain mini-grids powered by renewable sources.

Training young Africans, giving them the managerial, technical and practical skills to build and manage micro-grids to ensure stable renewable energy access to communities in rural areas. With this goal, we launched the Micro-Grid Academy one year ago, together with RES4Africa and in collaboration with Kenya Power Lighting Company (KPLC), Fondazione AVSI, Strathmore University and the St. Kizito VTI technical training center. The latest session of the Micro-Grid Academy started on January 15th and will come to an end with a graduation ceremony on January 24th.

This regional platform, based in Nairobi, Kenya, provides theoretical and practical training on energy access and decentralized solutions for renewable energy use to young technicians, entrepreneurs and engineers. Thanks to our collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Columbia University, Sapienza University in Rome, UN Environment, UN Habitat, and UNIDO, the Micro-Grid Academy trained 150 people from various countries in Eastern Africa in its first year.

40 students were selected for the fifth session. They will take part in theoretical lectures on the functioning and maintenance of Micro Grid Technologies, aided by specific devices and software. They will also visit villages powered by mini-grids, like Talek and Kitonyoni, in Kenya. The 40 participants selected will be joined by students from the Field Study Abroad project.

This year, the Academy will be back with lots of new features: first of all, the construction of an innovative hybrid mini-grid to use for practical training.

Sustainability in School

The pilot course was held in January 2018. For the second session, launched in April, the 40 participants included 20 women selected by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as part of the Africa Women Energy Entrepreneurs Framework (AWEEF). The platform empowers female entrepreneurs as main stakeholders through the energy value chain.

In July, the first Design Thinking Workshop was held with 18 participants. These included scholars selected through Open Africa Power, representatives of Africa Minigrid Developers Association (AMDA) and NGO Energy 4 Impact and Hand in Hand, as well as consultants, engineers, entrepreneurs, village technicians, trainers and experts – interested in the Micro-Grid Academy’s learning and teaching. This has enabled us to improve the school’s educational possibilities. Young Africans are taught to build a micro-grid to provide energy for homes, schools, healthcare centers in their villages, as well as local businesses, shaping a new future for rural communities in Africa.

In November in Lusaka, Zambia, the first traveling session of MGA on Tour was held. More than 100 people took part, visiting a 20-kWp photovoltaic plant. The workshop helped the University of Zambia launch its Solar Energy Centre to train local technicians.

Students experimented with the many aspects of mini-grid implementation directly: from planning and development to plant operations and maintenance

Prof. Andrea Micangeli, Academic Coordinator of the Micro-Grid Academy

A New Future for Africa

Micro-Grid Academy courses are a solid answer to many of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), since energy access has a positive impact on health and education services, women’s empowerment, mitigating climate change, reliable availability of water and food and energy security.

The Micro-Grid Academy aims to improve energy access in rural communities by promoting local entrepreneurship and the creation of new jobs

Marco Aresti, Head of the Access2Energy Program for RES4Africa

Our partnership with NGOs like AVSI and CEFA has allowed people from villages with low electrification levels to participate in the training sessions, with the hope of positively influencing their areas. RES4Africa and Enel Green Power also work with LEDsafari, a Swiss start-up that develops innovative digital products to help companies and organizations in the solar sector manage their personnel and resources. The goal is to give MGA students access to an e-learning platform, so they can continue their training remotely.

In its first year, the Micro-Grid Academy has already taken several important steps toward creating a generation of young Africans building their own future. By continuing to combine managerial and technical skills with practical training, we’ll train at least 300 students a year: the future leaders of the African energy sector.