A good solar education as a second chance
The population in Senegal is very young. Over 60 percent of the approximately 16.2 million people are 24 years old or younger. This represents great potential, but on the other hand a huge challenge. This is because many young Senegalese leave school without training – or with vocational training for which there is no demand. In concrete terms, there are 200,000 young school leavers and 34,000 vacancies. Against this background, many drop out of school prematurely. Both developments exacerbate the high unemployment rate, especially among young women. However, there are opportunities for young people, especially in the areas of fishing, manual work, agriculture and sustainable development, including the solar industry.
Within the framework of the “Integrated Project for the Betterment of Local Competences” (Projet Intégré de Valorisation des Compétences Locales – PRIVACOL), the sale of solar systems for household and business use, but also of solar pumps, solar cooling systems and solar dryers, is to be enhanced by female school leavers and young people without jobs. To this end, the project aims to train 30 young unemployed school leavers in the solar sector to become solar technicians, on the one hand, and to help at least 50 women find good jobs in agroecology, on the other.
PRIVACOL’s sponsor is the association Une lumière dans la rue (ULDLR), based in Thiès, the third largest city in Senegal. The association aims to improve the employment rate of boys and girls, especially from low-income families. In Thiès, the association operates a training and start-up centre for renewable energies, where it trains school leavers in solar professions free of charge. For PRIVACOL, ULDLR cooperates with the association Aide aux Femmes Africaines par la formation à l’Agro-écologie (AFAFA). The association has a team specialised in agroecology, and its mainly female members cultivate about 12 hectares of vegetable fields.
The project recruited the future solar technicians with the help of notices in training centres and local authorities in nearby communities. In their further training, the solar technicians go through 24 modules in which they learn the basics of solar installations. PRIVACOL also supports the trainees with information on how to start a solar business and supports them beyond the mere training. For this purpose, they receive basic equipment consisting of a solar suitcase, a multimeter and other equipment.
The women who are trained in agroecology are already organised into groups and gain additional knowledge through the training, which they can bring directly into their groups, thus strengthening them.