With solar power becoming an increasingly important energy source in Nigeria, the demand for skilled solar installers in that country has never been higher.
That’s why Alfred State College’s own Jeffrey Stevens teamed up with other groups this summer to organize and deliver an installation training program to develop a critical mass of highly skilled solar energy systems installers in Nigeria. Along with Stevens, who is the interim dean of the School of Applied Technology, support hailed from Cornell University, the State University of New York (SUNY), TellCo Europe-Nigeria, Orun Ododo Power Company Limited (OOPCL), and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).
For two weeks, Stevens trained installers in Abuja, Nigeria on photovoltaic systems. Though the original plan was to train 20 people, the project was expanded, and a total of 53 participants were trained. The project was made possible thanks to a $10,000 grant from Cornell University’s Institute for African Development (IAD) Students Summer Project Fund and support from Alfred State College.
According to the final report on the project, the trainees were first taught the theoretical aspects of solar energy and installation for a week, and then exposed to practical field experience for another week. During the field work portion, they were involved in the installation of a solar-powered borehole water supply system in Toko Village, a rural community in Karu Local Government Area, Nasawara State, at the outskirts of the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja.
The village is home to more than 600 members who previously had to walk a significant distance to service and obtain water for daily use. Now as a result of the project, the resource is located in the village center and has been infused to be the focal point of the community.
After the two-week training was completed as a way to encourage long term growth, the organizers began mentoring the 53 successful trainees and will continue to coach them for six months in their quest to becoming solar energy entrepreneurs and service providers, the final report states. Monitoring and evaluation exercises were also expected to take place for six months on the installed water supply system at Toko Village to ensure continuous operation and to measure the impact of the project.
Stevens brought with him extensive solar energy experience that includes serving as the consultant and lead for solar installation projects in a number of places, including county parks in Arlington, VA; the National Arboretum in Washington, DC; and the New York State Parks Department in Niagara Falls. He described the trip as “an incredible experience of sharing and teaching.”
“I found it an honor to share with Nigerian professionals the foundational knowledge and skills that Alfred State has been integrating into the School of Applied Technology’s skilled trades programs,” he said. “The demand for skilled tradesmen and women in the workforce is one that knows no borders. The workforce shortage is one that Alfred State recognizes and is serious about addressing. We are proud to be part of the solution to training the next generation of renewable energy and skilled trade leaders.”