10 January 2017
150 children live in the SOS Children’s Village in Hawassa, the capital of the Southern region of Ethiopia. They all share the same condition of life: they are no longer able to live with their parents. Their membership of the children’s village has given them a second chance at life, and together with SOS Children’s Villages, Solar Group has committed ourselves to a 3-year project providing them with solar energy and training so that they can study and prepare for an independent life.
With more than 90 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the second most populous country in the African continent. Electricity in Ethiopia is not very stable, and in an SOS Children’s Village in Hawassa, they resort to generators to produce the power necessary to run basic equipment. The current energy source is costly, and frequent outages make schooling very difficult, in terms of both administration, teachers preparation, and use of IT for students. It is not difficult to imagine how impossible it must feel to study in the evening when there is no sun light.
Ethiopian school girl listening intently to the teacher (Photo: Ida Mørck)
3 years of energy renovation and training
Over the coming three years, Solar Group together with Engineers without Borders and SOS Children’s Villages will be implementing solar energy in Hawassa to provide a much cheaper and stable energy source. This will make it a lot easier to conduct lessons requiring electronic devices and thus improve the children’s learning opportunities. With a possibility of connecting the solar energy to the local grid, the energy will benefit not only the SOS Children’s Village, but also the local community.
“In 2015-2016, we implemented solar cell panels in an SOS Children’s Village in Zanzibar. In my opinion, our most important contribution was the training and know-how which we provided to the locals to make sure that they could maintain and develop the systems in the future. And we are applying the same principles to our involvement in Ethiopia: Donating systems and man power is one thing. But even more importantly, we will be donating our know-how to ensure that our expertise stays in the village, also after the project ends,” explains Tore Haakonson, senior vice president and CSR responsible in Solar Group.
Therefore, our involvement in Ethiopia is split in two: The first two years of the project, we will focus on mounting solar cell panels to ensure renewable and stable electricity in the village. Following that, we are aiming to initiate a strategic cooperation with the vocational training centre in Hawassa and the SOS training centre in Addis to educate the local youth in solar energy. By teaching and sharing their knowledge, they will not only train a number of youth but will support the development of a solar energy curriculum in the training centres to ensure that the system is sustained after the project ends.
An easy pick
The effects of poverty permeate all levels of society, but children are the hardest hit. Far too many children lose parental care and as a result, they end up on the streets. “The extreme situation in Ethiopia made Hawassa an obvious pick for Solar Group when we were looking for a new project to follow our finalised energy renovation project in Zanzibar. We are very excited to be able to challenge our expertise within energy efficiency and at the same time make a difference to children in need,” says Tore Haakonson.