Arba Minch University, Sahay Solar Association, Gamo and Gofa Zonal Administrations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the next three years to install off-grid solar systems for off-grid electrification, on February 8, 2023. see more photos

AMU President, Dr Damtew Darza said, this joint venture signifies the transfer and adaption of technology to improve the lives of people in the community and it’s one of the community engagement tasks that serves AMU’s purpose. He also added that the three years agreement focuses on short-term and advanced Solar Training, PhD research program and student exchange, Rural electrification of communal buildings (Health Centers, Secondary/High schools), Mini-Grid installations for model rural villages, and Solar water pumping for drinking water and irrigation.

AMU's Vice President for Research and Community Engagement, Behailu Merdekios (Associate Professor), said, the Sahay Solar Project is a joint initiative of Arba Minch University, Gamo and Gofa Zones, the Sahay Solar Association Africa (Sahay) and University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI). He also stated that solar power has enabled health centers and staff to provide various healthcare services with relatively better quality. Moreover, access to electricity has also improved the motivation, attraction, and retention of experienced health staff, and enhanced the delivery of wider health care services, he informed.

Gamo Zone Chief Administrator, Berhanu Zewdie, in his part said, the project has benefited various health centers and schools by installing off-grid solar systems for electrification. The joint venture has improved the quality and service delivery potential of health centers and education facilities within the zone; the zonal administration is committed to the successful accomplishment of the project on issues of capacity building, community service, and sustainability of project works, he remarked. 

Renewable Energy Technology Research Center Director, Mr. Sodessa Soma, reported that AMU, Sahay Solar Association, and Gamo & Gofa Zone Administrations have been in close collaboration since 2009, to install 5KW solar photovoltaic systems in rural health centers and schools. Listing out project achievements, 9 rural secondary schools and 23 rural health centers were electrified, more than 300 undergraduate students and more than 200 academic staff, technical assistants, technicians and experts from governmental and non-governmental institutions were given basic solar PV Training.  According to the director, the electrified health centers are serving about 543,000 people while the school projects reach out over 2,500 students and 80 teachers annually.

The Chairman of Sahay Solar Association, Mr. Max Pohl said, the Sahay Solar initiative aims to actively help and shape the spread of solar energy in Ethiopia and thereby create the greatest possible value on an ecological, economic, and social level. With the established cooperation, AMU and Sahay Solar could set up a solar competence center at AMU for the training of local staff and students in solar and renewable energy technologies, he noted. Solar Water Pumping, Off-Grid Solar Power, Remote Monitoring, and Capacity Building Training will be the main activities that all parties agreed to exercise their best efforts to establish formal and ongoing cooperation, he added.

According to the agreement document, the project will be managed locally by Arba Minch University Renewable Energy Technology Research Center and each of the partners will dedicate one focal person to enable effective communication and fulfillment of the respective tasks and responsibilities. The financial budget during the project phase will be provided by all partners with the respective share of AMU: 20%, Gamo & Gofa Zones: 30%, and Sahay Solar: 50%.

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