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22.05.2008 00:00

A solar future for Ethiopia

  • Stiftung Solarenergie (Solar Energy Foundation) and Q-Cells AG present the work of the International Solar Energy School to the public
  • German trainers convinced by the scheme

Bitterfeld-Wolfen/Berlin, 22 May 2008 – In autumn 2007, the International Solar Energy School (ISES) in the Ethiopian town of Rema opened its doors. The school, which was established and is supported by the German Solar Energy Foundation, trains solar engineers in Ethiopia with the aim of providing the basis for the development of a sustainable electricity supply in the African country. The ISES complements the “Light for Education” programmes, which have been run successfully for several years by the Foundation for Rural Electrification in the Ethiopian province of Mida. 

At a press conference in Berlin, the Foundation and Q-Cells AG, as patron of the school, presented the school’s work in the presence of His Excellency Kassahun Ayele, the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The aim of the training is to enable prospective skilled workers to open their own small solar business in a rural environment. This is why they are given training in corporate management as well as the technology involved. The school is designed in such a way that German lecturers run the technical seminars, while Ethiopian lecturers are responsible for the business administration seminars. 

Since December 2007, Ethiopian electrical engineers have been trained as Rural Solar Energy Managers in three month courses and with great success, as Dr. Harald Schützeichel, Director of the Solar Energy Foundation declared at the press conference. “The first 24 trained solar engineers will now start selling solar systems independently in various regions of Ethiopia”, said Schützeichel. “We are confident that the school will continue to make its contribution to Ethiopia obtaining a reliable and sustainable energy supply, which will make for economic growth in the country itself in future.” 

The Q-Cells AG employees, who have given lectures at the school itself or at the University of Addis Ababa in a “Train the Traniner” programme, are also convinced by the idea. “The approach adopted by the Foundation is absolutely spot-on”, says Dr. Jochen Frenck, a department manager in the Technology division. “It’s not a case of giving people solar systems and then leaving them to deal with them alone but of developing a sustainable structure. We already feel that we have contributed to this and would like to do so in future as well.” And Dr. Christina Peters from the Research & Development department adds: “Of course, there is still a lot to do in the school but a great deal can be achieved through the commitment of the Foundation staff.” This is why the technologists agree that Q-Cells’ support is a good investment. “It really makes sense”, says Peters, “because, on the one hand, our work shows what solar energy can achieve in poorer countries and, on the other hand, these will be the markets of the future.” In view of its employees’ positive experiences, Q-Cells AG is planning to continue supporting the school – both financially and by seconding its employees there.