Akon Lighting Africa, an initiative started back in February 2014 by Akon, Thione Niang, and Samba Bathily. Announce they are going to set up a ‘Solar Academy’ to nurture skills and expertise in Africa. The announcement was made at the second United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Forum (SE4A).
The said professional training center of excellence is touted to be the first in Africa and is targeting to develop African entrepreneurs, technicians and engineers. The Solar Academy is set to open its doors to learners this summer in Bamako, Mali, and it is encouraging any African entrepreneur wishing to take part in the development of solar power to join their camp.
The project will be under the patronage of Solektra international. A program born out of a partnership between Akon Lighting Africa and some European experts who will be supplying the training equipment and programs. The project aims at reinforcing expert skills in every aspect of installing and maintaining solar electrical systems and microgrids that have demonstrated high potential in rural Africa particularly. The continent with its 320 days of sunshine has a great potential as far as solar energy is concerned. Also, a ready market made up of the 622 million Africans currently living without access to electricity.
Samba Bathily from SE4All in a statement said, “We have the sun and innovative technologies to bring electricity to homes and communities. We now need to consolidate African expertise, and that is our objective. We are doing more than just investing in clean energy. We are investing in human capital. We can achieve a great milestones and accelerate the African transformation process on condition that we start training a new generation of highly qualified African engineers, technicians, and entrepreneurs, now.”
Currently, the African continent holds the title of the continent with the youngest population; about 70% of Africans are under the age of 35. But one of the biggest challenges facing the continent is the lack of training and creating sustainable employment.
Thione Niang said, “We expect the Africans who graduate from this center to devise new, innovative, technical solutions. With this Academy, we can capitalize on Akon Lighting Africa and go further.”
Industry experts agree that the Akon Lighting Africa had put in place sustainable business model from the onset. By providing training and creating jobs thus enabling the local population utilize technical skills to become self-sufficient. The upcoming Solar Academy will be a further extension of this business model and encourage further growth across the African continent.