The challenge of access to energy has been recognised at the level of the African Union Agenda 2063 the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Goal 7 of the SDGs aims at achieving universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy by 2030, while Agenda 2063 Goals 1, 7 and 10 have targets for an increase of 50% in electricity generation, 50% distribution and 70% of Africans having access to electricity by 2023.
Furthermore, low levels of resilience to the threats such as COVID-19 in institutions of learning is a persistent challenge across Africa. Key among the causes of vulnerability of institutions across the continent is low productive capacity, especially a lack of access to key production drivers such as energy. Immediate resilience building interventions to respond to COVID-19 externalities are urgently required to cushion institutions of learning and rural households from anticipated severe short to long-term impacts. An effective response to the COVID-19 shock calls for simple, yet impactful, quick turn-around interventions that mitigate impacts in the short-term while building resilience in the long term.
It is in this context that this renewable energy project is an AUDA-NEPAD led response to the recommendation of the African Union High Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET), specially as part of the outcomes of the Dakar Policy Dialogue, to mitigate COVID-19 pandemic externalities.
Njala, in Sierra Leone, is a farming community with over 10,000 thousand inhabitants in which the Njala University campus was stablished in year 1964 with presently over 10 000 students and 220 staff devoid of basic amenities such as electricity and access to clean water. This puts pressure on the institution in terms of teaching, research development and to the women and youth of the entire community to meet up their domestic needs, including livestock production.
The university campus consists of the secretariat, students’ quarters and academic lecture auditoriums. The administrative secretariat provides essential educational services against severe capacity limitation due to lack of electricity. The campus has since been powered by a thermal generator of which the cost of operation is too high for the institution, hence the rationing of power which inhibits adequate hours of learning, thereby impacting negatively on quality of learning..
Consequent to the 100Kw energy system already delivered to Njala university in year 2021 to support access to digital health delivery services to university students, women, youth and the community of Njala at large, this additional deployment of 50Kw solar Pv energy generation aims to increase access to electricity supply. It will drive accelerated educational service delivery and institutional strengthening to Njala university in the fight against the current pandemic and beyond, while lifting academic productivity, living standards and livelihoods of the entire Njala community.
This 50Kw Solar PV energy generation system was awarded to Aptech Africa Limited as the executing firm in December 2021 through the Renewable Energy Unit of the Environmental Sustainability division of AUDA-NEPAD, with Mr Benjamin Akobundu as the Project Manager. It was fully completed in May 2022.
The implementation of this project was also monitored by University of Njala Project Monitoring Committee in conjunction with the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Energy. The project has also received the full acceptance of Inspection and Receiving Committee of AUDA-NEPAD.