Training of Trainers, training development and e-Learning in West Africa
develoPPP Project – Ghana and Togo
Valentin Software, GREEN Solar Academy and Takoradi Technical University joined forces to implement expert solar training and job placement opportunities for future PV engineers in West Africa. The main objective of the project remains that of making young graduates more employable by equipping them with the practical skills currently in demand in the solar industry in each country and to connect them with the solar companies looking to employ staff who have been correctly trained.
In Ghana, a physical Solar Training Centre was set up on the campus of TTU. In Togo, GREEN and Valentin are working with the KYA Energy Institute to develop an online course on the Operation and Maintenance of PV MiniGrids. Students of both trainings will be paired with local companies for internships on graduation.
The project is financed in part by develoPPP.de, a program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) that supports companies active in developing and emerging countries who want to make their entrepreneurial activities sustainable.
The main objective of the project remains that of making young graduates more employable by equipping them with the practical skills currently in demand in the solar industry in each country and to connect them with the solar companies looking to employ staff who have been correctly trained.
Context and Scope: Ghana
The project started with the selection of lecturers from Takoradi Technical University to be trained to teach students in solar PV. This Training of Trainers included on-site technical and didactical training, where members of GREEN Solar Academy traveled to Ghana to lead the sessions, online training in PV*SOL premium solar simulation software, as well as teaching exercises.
Stakeholder workshops were held with leading players in the Ghana solar industry to establish the specific skills and competencies companies are seeking in new hires, and ensure that the curriculum of the student training course was aligned with these outcomes.
GREEN Solar Academy then developed a 3-week course called PV Planner, which covered everything from electrical and solar PV basics to the design and installation of grid-tied, off-grid and hybrid systems. TTU lecturers supplemented and modified the course material under the guidance of GREEN to ensure content that was relevant to Ghana. To prepare course participants for their internship, several soft skills modules are included in the curriculum. During these sessions, learners will delve into the topics of job interviews, communication and workplace attitude, and engage in practice interviews and roleplay to demonstrate that they understand desirable and undesirable workplace attitudes.
At the same time, an existing building on the TTU campus was being refurbished to become the Solar Training Centre. This included the construction of two training roofs where students can practice the physical attachment of mounting structures and modules to get a real feel for the installation of solar, as well as the equipping of a classroom and a computer lab with all the necessary items such as desks, projectors and PCs. The classroom also hosts the inverters and battery banks that connect to the training roof, and which are used by students during the practical portions of the course.
The Solar Training Centre was inaugurated in February 2022 and the first 3-week student training took place in May.
In response to a marketing appeal by GREEN, international solar component manufacturers like Jinko, Victron Energy, Photos and Fronius and solar distributors such as Tino Solutions, a technology partner of GREEN in Ghana, provided components including solar modules, power inverters and lead acid batteries at extremely affordable prices or free of charge.
Context and Scope: Togo
Togo recognised a high demand for mini-grid training and identified the potential to offer this training online as an alternative to the in-person training beset by multiple delays due to Covid. Thus the plan to build a physical centre of learning was set aside in Togo.
The online course called Operation and Maintenance of PV Mini Grids is currently in development and will be available in both French and English once complete.
The main chapters of the course are:
• Chapter 1 – Design
• Chapter 2 – Software Design
• Chapter 3 – Community Communication
• Chapter 4 – Installation
• Chapter 5 – Operation and Maintenance
• Chapter 6 – Policy and Regulations
Training of Trainers in Togo will be markedly different in that the lecturers selected will not need to be trained as experts in PV (as is the case in Ghana), they will only need to be trained to assist students to navigate the course and online portal.
Internships for graduates who have completed the online course is also a feature of the project in Togo.
GREEN Directors Antje Klauss-Vorreiter and Vivian Bluemel flank project partner Prof. Yao Azoumah of Kya-Energy Group
Screengrabs of online course
Valentin Software develops design and simulation software for energy technology systems. Valentin’s best-selling PV*SOL application has become a standard in the PV Solar industry and is used by engineers, planners and universities. Valentin’s software solutions are multilingual and sold worldwide, with 20 sales and training partners around the globe.
KYA-Energy Institute is the training arm of KYA-Energy Group. The institute runs GREEN Solar Academy Togo, the first GREEN academy established in francophone Africa. KYA-Energy Group works to meet the challenge of electrification in Africa in a sustainable way through the design, assembly and distribution of standalone energy systems, especially for household applications and productive applications (SMEs and agricultural applications).
Takoradi Technical University is a public tertiary education institution in Ghana that has recently started to focus on renewable energy. It was one of six polytechnics converted into a fully-fledged university in 2016. The university runs Masters in Technology and Bachelor in Technology Programmes in addition to a Higher National Diploma and other Certificate Programmes and Courses.
develoPPP.de was set up by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) over 20 years ago to foster the involvement of the private sector in areas where business opportunities and development policy initiatives overlap. To this end, BMZ offers financial and technical support for companies that want to do business or have already begun operating in developing and emerging-market countries. The company is responsible for covering at least half of the overall costs.
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