“Solar Mamas” Training Program Brings Solar Power to Rural Communities in Cameroon

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In an attempt to promote the economic development of women and facilitate an environment for social change in Africa, the Rural Women Development Center (RUWDEC) has established a program whereby training is provided for women for the maintenance of solar panels and other equipment – including those with no background in engineering. The program aims to provide solar power to rural communities in rural Anglophone Cameroon.

These solar engineers, known as “Solar Mamas”, attend a six-month training program at Barefoot College in India. The program provides a visual-learning program to, mostly illiterate, women living in rural areas, providing them with the skills to build, install, and maintain solar panels and provide a renewable source of energy to their communities.

Bringing solar power to Cameroon’s rural communities, which are mostly reliant on kerosene lamps and woodfires, is an important step towards providing universal access to electricity in the west-central African country.

Chairperson of the Tiko Rural Solar Electrification Project, Zachive Ngeve Etutu, noted that the panels are made to last for 11 years and will need regular maintenance, with committees having been set up to oversee their preservation and operation. Etutu stated that “We have also established a rural training workshop intended to train women and youths in solar installation and maintenance.”

Solar Mama Alice Sakwe, one of 13 Cameroonian women to receive training at Barefoot College, stated that “Installing the solar system in their homes makes [her] happy, because children can now read and their performances in school will improve.”

In addition to providing the technical skills necessary for the installation and maintenance of solar panels, the RUWDEC provides budgeting and accounting education for women to foster financial inclusion in an attempt to empower rural women socially and economically.

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Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen is a Video Editor and Content Writer at Energy Capital & Power. He holds an Honours Degree in Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town and is currently undergoing his Masters Degree. Born in Pretoria and raised internationally, he has been living in Cape Town since 2013.

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