Sahay Solar Project: Stakeholders discuss way forward

Solar unit installation project stakeholders, Sahay Solar Association, AMU, University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland and Gamo Gofa Zone’s representatives converged at Senate Hall on 16th April, 2019, to discuss way forward and to sort out technicalities involved in financial provisions following bifurcation of Gamo Gofa Zone. Till date, the project has electrified 23 health centres off national grid. Click here to see the pictures

The meet began with Sahay Solar Association, Germany, Chairman, Max Pohl, hinting at collaboration on electrification of rural areas, water supply and consulting, said, SSA is interested to install solar-powered pumping system in rural areas that’s cost-effective and long-lasting, for which assessment must be done.  

Listing out project achievements, he said, in 2010 Solar Competence Centre was established at AMU, market viability for solar was developed and entrepreneurs supported. The first solar system was installed at AMU in 2009, followed by electrification of 8 rural schools (2011-14) and solar units installed at 2 health centres in 2014-15; finally in May 2015, ongoing pact to electrify rural health centres was signed, he adds.

For the project, Gamo and Gofa Zones are expected to contribute 30% (ETB 3 Million), Sahay Solar is contributing 60% of total project budget, AMU 10% and SUSPI bears costs for the supply of a technical consultant for advisory and capacity building training at AMU.

AMU Coordinator, Mr Zelalem Girma, informed till date 23 health centres were installed and beneficiaries of areas are reaping benefits; hardship is now turned into efficiency and frustration into joy as healthcare for expecting mothers and children have undergone a sea change and people are happy.

Underlining issues of battery replacement and maintenance, he said, these issues are crucial which need immediate attention; it must be firmly dealt with the cooperation of zonal administration and others. And confusion emerging following bifurcation of Gamo and Gofa zones need to be looked into, so far, Zonal Administration has given ETB 1 Million instead of stipulated amount of 3 Million.

The participating officials from Gamo Zone Health Department, Gamo Finance Development, Gafa Zone Health Department and Gamo Energy Development Corporation unanimously vow to support the project with proportionate financial contributions coming into their share.

We need solar units in 13 health centres as availability of hydro-power is a remote possibility, said, Head of Gofa Zone Health Department, Mr Alemayehu Bekele. Education Bureau Head of Gofa Zone. Mr Mahe Bodda, accentuating his point, said, Gamo Zone has 77 High Schools, where due to lack of electricity, students learn only theoretical aspect of ICT; power will enable them to know the practical aspect and progress in true sense of term, and solar power is the best alternative, he added. 

Gamo Zone’s Chief Administrator’s Counselor, Mr Eshetu Elto, informed that of 400 kebeles, only 180 are electrified, he urged the project to focus on this and also to electrify those schools which lack power. He assured to facilitate disbursal of required sum for the project. Gamo Zone Health Department, Planning and Monitoring Unit Head, Mr Bergene Bekele, asked more power for rural health posts to serve needy more effectively.

AMU President, Dr Damtew Darza, steering discussion, said, this joint venture in reality signifies transfer of technology to improve lives of people in community. Therefore, it assumes greater importance and it’s one of Community Service that serves AMU’s purpose; responsibility to sustain this endeavor equally rest on everyone’s shoulder, so contribute, what is expected of each one of us.  

Lauding all those involved in the project, Scientific Director of Institute of Technology, Dr Alemayehu Chufamo, urged zonal administration to contribute its part for the success of this venture. The founder of  Sahay Solar Association, Switzerland, Mr Ruedi Tobler, Project Officer, Marieline Bader, AMU officials and others were in attendance. Community Service Directorate Director, Dr Teklu Wegayehu, conducted the program.

Woreda-wise installation of solar units at respective health centres is as follow: AMU has 1, Chencha, 2, Arba Minch Zuria, 4, Bonke, 3, Kamba, 2, Dara Malo, 2, Kucha, 2, Malo Koza, 2, Uba Debere Tsahay, 1, Oyida, 1, Zala, 1, Geze Gofa, 1, and Demba Gofa, 1.,

(Corporate Communication Directorate)