Africa will soon have its first "Solar Academy," where people across the continent can develop professional skills to enter the industry.
It opens this summer in Bamako, Mali and is the creation of Akon Lighting Africa. Solektra International is funding it and European companies are supplying training equipment and curricula.
The goal is to convey expertise in every aspect of installing and maintaining solar electric systems and micro-grids in particular, which are really taking off in rural Africa, says Akon Lighting.
The need is great with 622 million Africans still without power and the sun shines 320 days a year.
An installation in Guinea, credit: David Monfort/Dagency
"We have the sun and innovative technologies to bring electricity to homes and communities. We now need to consolidate African expertise and that is our objective," says co-founder Samba Bathily. "We are doing more than just investing in clean energy. We are investing in human capital. We can achieve great milestones and accelerate the African transformation process if we start training a new generation of highly qualified African engineers, technicians and entrepreneurs now."
With 70% of Africa’s population under 35, one of its biggest challenges is training and creating sustainable employment, says Akon, which has always trained and hired people locally.
While there are now many small companies bringing solar light to Africa, Akon has operations in 11 countries in the year since it began operating. The company, with Missouri-born RnB singer Akon as a co-founder, has invested about $400 million so far in village lighting systems.
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