Energizing Development project (EnDev), an energy access partnership funded by six donor countries (United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands), and implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) has completed a five day training for over sixty (60) Solar Mini Grid Technicians from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. It was the first supra-regional training for all three countries of its kind.

 The training was done in collaboration with the operators (Power Gen, EnergiCity and Winch Energy) of the 50 Mini Grids developed by the Rural Renewable Energy Project (RREP), funded by the UK Department for International Development, and implement by UNOPS in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and technicians from three Mini Grids from the Press-D project (EU/WHH) and the three Mini Grids from Plan/EU in Liberia The Mini Grid operators were specifically targeted to capacitate their technicians to be able to operate, maintain and troubleshoot the Mini Grids. For Guinee it might have been the first mini-grid workshop of its kind.

The training was conducted by technical experts from Germany, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In order to give the training, the required balance, experts were invited by Johannes Weber from some big players in the Solar industry. Tim Malzfeld represented SMA, Ulrich Preuss represented Hoppecke, Nicolas Rohrer represented Asantys.

Opening remarks by the director of EnDev Mano River Union, Hartlieb Euler urged participants to make full use of this training and networking opportunity and learn as much as possible from experts and each other. Importance of regular maintenance of systems and need for projects to set aside funds for maintenance, monitoring and repair, as done by GOSL and UNOPS for the mini-grids, was stressed. Especially solar streetlights, but as well private homes and social institutions break down without available funds for repair. Poor quality of material used is an issue. 


                                                       A cross section of the participants

 

The training dealt with both theoretical and practical aspects of solar Mini Grid installation, troubleshooting and maintenance presented by technicians from Liberia and Sierra Leone. Teaching materials contained simulations of real-life scenarios to show demonstrations of the subject matter.

Day 3 of the training focused on networking of stakeholders in the Renewable Energy Sector in Sierra Leone and between countries. Representatives from the Ministry of Energy, EWRC, REASL, Off-Grid Working Group, UNOPS, RREA, EnDev Guinee, UNOPS and all Mini Grid operators presented their program, achievements, institutions and their current activities in the sector. The Ministry of Energy explained the progress in the RE-sector with Mini Grids as an outcome of the Energy Revolution and the regulator EWRC went deep into the rules for Mini-Grids agreed upon with Government.  The Head of the RE-Association REASL invited more technicians to join the representation of the sector.

The last two days of the training focused on practical exercises, with participants going through the rigorous training schedule to understand the concept, some appliances and risks involved better. A field trip followed on the final day to one of the RREP project Mini Grid sites in Petifu where participants had access to see how all the concepts taught fit together. Participants were separated into three work groups: Battery (Hoppecke), Inverter (SMA) and Panels (Asantys) so that each group can have a better understanding of the components and discuss.

Presentation of certificates climaxed the end and an evaluation showed that the workshop implementation through Foday Sheku Dumbuya, Lamin Andrew Kamara, Freeman Godu, Johannes Weber, Ylva Kuerten, Luisa Rahn and many others was overwhelmingly appreciated by the participants.