SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility: 2nd Cohort Technical Training by KGRTC

Friday, 06 Aug 2021

The Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre (KGRTC) has taken the lead in ensuring that skills development in the energy sector continues to roll out despite the challenges and limitations brought about by the COVID-19 Pandemic. This can be seen through various initiatives KGRTC and its partners have implemented to continue providing training services.

From 12th to 29th July 2021, KGRTC successfully held a technical training workshop for the 2nd cohort of entrepreneurs under the SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility which is being implemented in sixteen-member countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). This is as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE), signed in February 2017, to support renewable energy (RE) market development in the SADC region through capacity building of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs.

The training was jointly organized by IRENA and the SACREEE and delivered by KGRTC. The training workshop entitled “Planning, Design and Development of Renewable Energy Projects (PDDREP)” aimed at building the capacity of Renewable Energy Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the SADC in;

  • Concepts of Renewable Energy Project Planning;

  • Renewable Energy Project Conceptualization, Scoping, Technical Procedures and Quality Assurance Requirements;

  • Feasibility Study Process, Design and Optimisation, Installation, Operation and Maintenance of Renewable Energy Projects;

  • Performance of Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Energy Storage Systems;

  • Renewable Energy Contractual Issues;

  • Train the Trainer - Energy Efficiency Management;

  • SME Business Skills Toolkit.

The online training workshop consisted of lectures, case studies and interactive sessions. The KGRTC E-Campus (portal) was used as a hub for accessing all learning materials including assignments. Live classes were conducted using Microsoft Teams which enabled participants to interact with industry experts (trainers) in real-time. Below are some highlights from five (5) randomly selected participants.

Dr. Fortunate Farirai is a chemical engineer by profession who specialises in renewable energy and is the Founder of Sustenergy (Zimbabwe) a company that is committed to sustainable energy technologies growth in Africa, she was among the participants that took part in the training workshop that was facilitated by KGRTC, below is her experience.

How did you benefit from the training?

It was an honour for Sustenergy to be selected for the 2021 SMEs Cohort to undergo training on Planning, Design and Development of Renewable Energy Projects (PDDREP) - for the SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility which was organised by SACREEE, IRENA and KGRTC. All the modules that were delivered during the three weeks were vital to the activities that our company is focused on. It was interesting as the facilitators covered solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, wind energy, hydropower, biomass and biogas technologies. The most exciting part was the aspects of design and installation of these technologies. We were also taken through the procedures of conducting pre-feasibility studies of RE projects which is one of the important aspects when implementing large RE systems..

On the training material development module, we learnt how to conduct a training needs assessment, this is important to Sustenergy as one of our divisions Sustenergy Training Academy focuses on training in the energy sector. Just a glimpse on Training Needs Assessment (TNA), it is aimed at helping the course organizer to plan and effectively conduct training programs. TNA helps to identify employee or target person’s knowledge and skills gaps to be addressed in the training, in relation to their job or occupation.

What was your overall experience during the training?

Overall my experience during the training was fantastic and I enjoyed every module that was delivered. The team of facilitators were well knowledgeable about their areas and I am grateful for that.

Edward is a Namibian Renewable Energy entrepreneur who specialises in Solar photovoltaic systems, he was among the 32 SMEs representatives that were trained by KGRTC in the Planning, Design and Development of Renewable Energy Projects (PDDREP) training programme, below is his experience.

How did you find out about the SADC PDDREP Training Programme?

On the 9th March 2021, a colleague of mine who is aware of my PV Solar energy business venture sent me a link to the advert/call for applications that was posted online, I then instantly applied for the opportunity because I knew it was something that would add value to my line of business.

What was your overall experience during the training?

The experience was really enlightening and the following major aspects of the training equipped me with information and knowledge that will help my business flourish:

  • The facilitators' depth of knowledge during the Question-and-Answer sessions made it possible for me to fully understand all the modules in practical lines;

  • The Training scopes were diverse and well thought of that they accommodated different sectors of renewable energy;

  • The participation from various SADC member state SMEs created a way for me to network and have access to business colleagues around the SADC region.

Last but not at least I am grateful with the fact that we have been certified by Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre which is a Centre of Excellence, I really feel this certificate will support us in different areas such as in the process of sourcing for funding or partnerships.

Jane is the founder of Green Belt Energy (Zambia) a company that is in the business of producing affordable renewable energy that is accessible by the people of Zambia. The company supplies energy in Zambia and invests in renewable energy research in order to find efficient ways of producing renewable energy. Jane and her colleague Malama Mulenga were part of the 32 SMEs selected for the training below is a summary of their experience.

How did you find out about the SADC PDDREP Training Programme?

I found out about the training from a SACREEE call for applications advert that was published online, I filed in an application because the capacity building programme is in line with my field of business.

What was your overall experience during the training?

The training was absolutely insightful, as an SME in renewable energy, we have struggled to find best practices that can help us become innovative and successful. Greenbelt Energy is working in biogas & clean-tech solutions in Zambia and there aren't many companies in our industry currently, so the standard business-building processes available do not really apply in the renewable energy field because it's a growing sector in our country and so many practices are not documented, this training programme was an eye-opener to a lot of business practice strategies and before it, we faced a lot of challenges in accessing the relevant skills and information required to run a successful Renewable Energy business.

Joe is the founder of Tech Power Services a renewable energy utility company based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the company provides clean energy in an easily, scalable, affordable and reliable way to underserved communities living outside of the national grid coverage via a smart microgrid. Joe was among the 32 SMEs that were trained and below is his experience.

What was your overall experience during the training?

Personally, I learnt so much, especially in Planning, Design and Development of Solar Energy Projects where we are more involved as Tech Power. As a result, I feel more confident and empowered to take our company to the next level. I’m very grateful to have been awarded the opportunity to attend this innovative training programme through the SADC Renewable Energy Entrepreneurship Support Facility. I know the skills I’ve gained as a result of participating in the workshop will help catapult the success of our company, and for that, I am truly grateful.

Trevor and Edward run Mzansi Solar Solutions a company that specializes in PV Solar Solutions, Design, Installation, Inspections, Commissioning, Monitoring, Maintenance and Financing. Trevor and Edward were part of the SMEs selected to participate in the training and below is their experience.

How did you find out about the SADC PDDREP Training Programme?

We learnt about the program through a friend who is a Renewable Energy expert and researcher after he saw an advertisement online and realized it would be a good fit for our organization. We consider ourselves quite fortunate to have been chosen to participate in this training program, which was professionally organized and executed from the first day right throughout to the final day.

What was your overall experience during the training?

All of the facilitators’ presentation materials were informative, educative, and engaging, and the facilitators themselves clearly demonstrated that they had far more expertise and insight to share through the interactive sessions we had. In terms of the training content, new concepts were presented in such a way that even a beginner could walk away as an expert in developing Renewable Energy projects, the content that wasn't new was presented in bite-sized chunks, allowing the knowledge to be quickly internalized while providing an eye-opening bigger picture of how it could be implemented.

The most exciting element of the training was the opportunity to connect with and learn from other professionals and renewable energy experts from the SADC region, who appeared to be as passionate about renewable energy as we are. We are looking forward to making long-term contacts, possible friendships, and partnerships that will help us grow both personally and professionally.

We would like to express our gratitude to everyone at IRENA, SACREEE, and KGRTC, as well as everyone else who contributed to making this remarkable training facility a reality. Rea leboga.

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