Solar at Fantsuam!

John Dada was unable to attend this week’s UK-Nigeria meeting in person ...but he had an excellent excuse! John was busy hosting a much anticipated visit from the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) team who are collaborating with Fantsuam Foundation for their first on the ground “Light Up Africa Project”.

Our sister organisation, Fantsuam Foundation is an excellent choice of in-country partner for this project as they can draw upon John’s expertise and enthusiasm for solar power as he has been actively trying to implement local solar projects for many years. In fact Fantsuam’s power has been provided by a hybrid system of which solar power continues to be an important factor. John has been seeking expert technical support for many years and the team at MRES certainly appear to fit this brief.

As reported on MRES’s website initially there were two goals to be achieved: namely a solar installation of at Kafanchan General Hospital and a corresponding workshop.
MRES report that they will install “ Two 230W PV modules and two batteries donated by Innovative Power Systems (IPS) [snip] for powering lights in the pediatric ward, corridors and nurses' station. Currently the pediatric wing has no electricity. Staff use insufficient lighting from kerosene lamps or torch lights, which are fire hazards and air quality hazards, or flashlights, which are expensive. The pediatric ward primarily serves children with sickle cell anemia.”

MRES hoped that the proposed workshop will provide a “comprehensive overview of how solar energy is generated and how it can be used to improve lives, along with hands-on training on solar panel construction and installation. Attendees will help make a 60-W solar panel, 3-W cell phone charger and soldering station.”

However, as the current visit is only 8 days it is felt that it will be too ambitious to fulfill all of the above goals fully and so we are realling looking forward to this week's meeting (and over the coming weeks) when we will learn more about what has been achieved.

I was very pleased to see MRES’ Fran Crotty’s comments on the MRES website that:
“When working on international projects, it’s important not to just go in with materials and then leave,” For many years this has been a real concern for Dadamac UK.

Fran Crotty went on to say. “It’s important to provide education, give local people ownership of projects and let them make decisions.... A partnership with local organizations is key to the long-term success of international projects because they can provide long-term support. In northern Nigeria, MRES’ in-country partner is the Fantsuam Foundation
MRES and Fantsuam Foundation leaders believe the MRES education and training will likely serve as a cornerstone for establishing small cooperative businesses in northern Nigeria, where local worker-owners would make high quality PV modules and cell phone charging stations.
MRES will leave behind two soldering stations that could be used to help start the solar-related businesses. MRES volunteers will take one soldering station, and workshop attendees will help build the second soldering station.”

Other news from the meeting:

Related to the above information Fantsuam are keen to find out what's happened with the children identified with Sickle Cell Disease .The fear is that the recent violence may have disrupted their lives and they may have moved away.

The photo above shows a sickle cell screening day for 355 babies in rural Nigerian community Organised by John and his team in June 2011. It is the children who tested positive for the disease that John is now keen to follow up.