“We are electricians and train our students in electricity in our respective TVET [technical and vocational education and training]
colleges. We know conceptually that it is possible to convert solar energy into electrical energy; however, we never imagined how this was done prior to this training,” said Tibebu Derecha Effa, an electricity and electronics teacher at Woliso TVET College, some 110 kilometers west of Addis Ababa.
This is part of the training-of-trainers courses offered by the Assistance to Health Systems Expansion project
(AHSE) in areas critical for improving delivery of health services in Ethiopia. The training was carried out in collaboration with the Selam Technical & Vocational College.
Solar energy as an alternative energy source is fundamental for the government of Ethiopia, which currently implements a national plan to ensure 100 percent basic health care coverage throughout the country. As part of this massive expansion project, the Ethiopian government is building health centers in remote areas that are off-grid. Lack of electricity hampers the operation of health centers in terms of heated water, refrigeration, diagnostic laboratories, and lighting, all necessary features to provide quality care. Solar energy has a lot of potential to address these issues.
“This training has enabled us not only to learn about the technicalities of solar energy, but we can now install and maintain a solar energy source in our area,” Tibebu said. “We will look for funds from our TVET College’s budget, present our case, and install a solar energy panel in our college. This will be a model for our area, and we will use it to teach our students.” He added, “even as a citizen I will volunteer and give free service to install [photo voltaic] solar panels anywhere in our region…The training has given us a means to serve our nation. In our region, if a health center is fitted with a solar energy source, we will be happy to help maintain it.”