Solar energy increases local value-creation by women
The small village of Goumbayel, with its 2,000 inhabitants, is located in eastern Senegal in the Tambacounda region, about 530 kilometres from Dakar. The people there live from agriculture and, to a certain extent, from tourism. The special feature of the village: since 2018, Goumbayel has had a mini-grid, powered by a 30 kWp photovoltaic system. This plant can already only serve the greatly increased demand for electricity to a limited extent. From 10pm, lights or refrigerators go out in the tourist camp, and the well’s pump is no longer active. With more electricity, the residents would once again have a continuous energy supply and could also strengthen local value-creation and increase their incomes.
The partner, Mercy Corps, would like to expand the capacity of the solar plant by an additional 30 kWp, and specifically promote the economic development of women in particular.
Mercy Corps (MC) is a non-profit organisation which aims to facilitate access to energy for businesses and entrepreneurs in rural areas. MC has extensive experience in renewable energy, since merging with Energy 4 Impact (E4I) in 2021, and has supported more than 100 mini-grid operators. MC-E4I has been involved in Tambacounda for nine years.
The partners want to promote local value-creation in Goumbayel with several activities which build on each other. In the first step, an awareness and mobilisation campaign was carried-out with the aim of recording the planned economic activities and business ideas, and using these to determine the additional electricity requirements.
This analysis showed that the plant should be expanded by a 30 kWp capacity. In the second step, the plant is now to be expanded.
In parallel to the expansion, selected entrepreneurs will be supported in the development of their activities through continuous mentoring, training and better access to financing for equipment. When procuring the necessary equipment, for example, milling machines, refrigerators or sewing machines, the partners link the future entrepreneurs with certified technology suppliers. Moreover, they sensitise the entrepreneurs to energy-efficiency as, if they use less electricity, this also means that the additional PV electricity will be sufficient for everyone.
So, the expansion is aimed at two developments: On the one hand, residents will once again have unrestricted access to energy around-the-clock and, on the other, energy will be used more productively, which should generate additional income and, at the same time also strengthen the economic viability and thus the sustainability of the system.