Twelve Senegalese women’s and youth groups take off with solar energy

Groups of women and young people in the Kédougou region will improve their own farms with the productive use of solar energy. The project started at the end of April.

The region of Kédougou, located in the extreme south-east of the country, has a strong economic potential. It is a crossroads between Senegal, Mali, and Guinea. Nevertheless, many inhabitants have difficulties to engage in profitable commercial activities. Many people live off their small agricultural plots, which they cultivate mainly as subsistence farming. At best, they sell marginal shares on local markets, so they do not have enough resources to finance, for example, education or health care for their families.

One of the reasons for these low incomes is the use of rudimentary agricultural production techniques and the almost total absence of downstream value-adding stages for agricultural products. The lack of access to machinery and the absence of energy to operate it are major obstacles to market-oriented cultivation of arable land. In order to reduce these obstacles and promote local income generation, SEMFund, a Senegalese non-profit organisation, through the GBE programme supports the creation of six women-owned agricultural production and processing enterprises.

The project, entitled “PRES-AGR: solar energy and income-generating activities for economic empowerment of rural women”, will support these groups in the acquisition of two mills, two huskers, three irrigation pumps, and three refrigerators, all of which will be solar powered. It will enable the six women’s groups to process, preserve, and market cereals, fruits, and vegetables. SEMFund also supports the training and further education of micro-entrepreneurs in all technical and economic areas. In addition, six groups of young people will be trained in the technical maintenance of the solar installations and machines. For the sustainable operation of these installations, the women’s groups will employ these groups of young people as maintenance teams, who will be remunerated from the income generated by these activities.

The aim of PRES-AGR is to enable women and young people to earn a higher income and develop a sustainable project. At least 30 full-time jobs will be created as well as additional employment opportunities for a dozen young people. In addition, another 360 people will benefit indirectly from the project. The project was launched at the end of April in Kédougou. SEMFund is currently implementing a project similar to PRES AGR in the Matam area (Northern Senegal) in the framework of GBE’s Small Project Fund.