NUST/NEI Offers Solar PV Training Through Collaboration With UNDP, KGRTC, ILO, and NTA Under a Japan-Funded Project

The Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), through the Namibia Energy Institute (NEI), teamed up with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in implementing a Japan-funded project titled: “Strengthening and Building Resilience of Namibia’s Peri-urban Communities to Climate Change through Climate-Smart Agricultural Production, Access to Solar Technologies, Climate Information and Early-Warning System”.

An additional component of this project was the collaboration with NEI to improve the productive capacities of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and informal value chain actors in renewable energy and green hydrogen sectors for effective participation across the energy value chain.

To this end, NEI, in collaboration with the Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre (KGRTC) and the National Training Authority (NTA) hosted a train-the-trainer training in renewable energy technologies at Eenhana Vocational Training Centre (EVTC), from 25 to 29 March 2024. 

During the demonstration event of the project held at NUST on 18 March, Vice-Chancellor Dr Erold Naomab said the institution was particularly excited to be part of this collaboration aimed at strengthening climate-smart agricultural production and increasing access to solar technologies.

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Dr. Christian Shingiro praised NUST for its “unwavering commitment to fostering dialogue and collaboration making it the perfect partner for a project such as this”.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) remains a crucial enabler for socio-economic development especially for developing countries. The persisting gap between the National Qualification Framework (NQF) level 3 and level 7, and the lack of qualified trainers burdens the optimal implementation of solar technologies in Namibia. Most of the existing expertise in Namibia is more theoretical and less technical and vice-versa, thus compromising the effective implementation of solar technologies to achieve affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all Namibians by the year 2030.

It is against this background that the subproject “Skilling MSMEs, Including in the Informal Sector, for Effective Participation in The Renewable Energy and Green Hydrogen (GH) Value Chains”, which is a collaboration between NEI and UNDP, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) country office of Zambia, through the  Skills for Energy in Southern Africa (SESA) project, the Institute for Decentral Electrification, Entrepreneurship and Education GmbH (ID-EEE), NTA, and the KGRTC based in Zambia was established.

The four courses were selected from KGTRC. These were; Off-grid Solar System Design and Installation; Earthing Bonding and Lightning Protection; Safety, Health, Environment and Quality Management; Distribution at Low Voltage. These were selected as short courses which can feed the Bachelor of TVET for trainers, which is being developed by NUST. Additionally, a special course on batteries, charger controller and inverter technology will be conducted by Prof Peter Adelman from ID-EEE from 20 to 24 May 2024.

From 25 to 29 March, KGRTC facilitated the Off-grid Solar System Design and Installation course which was offered to 30 diverse instructors from public and private TVET institutions selected by the NTA, as well as lecturers from the NUST Faculty of Engineering, and the University of Namibia Faculty of Engineering, at the José Eduardo dos Santos (JEDS) Campus in Ongwediva, that are involved in teaching and capacity building around renewable energy.

ILO Chief Technical Advisor for the SESA project, Dr. Lloyd Ngo, said the organisation, through the KGRTC, aimed to address skills needs for Renewable Energy (RE), Energy Efficiency (EE) and Regional Energy Integration (REI).

“The purpose of the collaboration with the UNDP is to provide a framework for the non-exclusive cooperation and facilitate and strengthen collaboration between the Parties in the areas of common interest. The specific purpose of the collaboration is to improve the productive capacities of MSMEs and informal value chain actors in renewable energy and Green Hydrogen sectors for effective participation across the energy value chain. The anticipated outcome being enhanced capacities of vocational training and higher education institutions to (up)skill MSME actors in the renewable energy sector,” he said.

Dr. Ngo also said that through the collaboration between NUST and the KGTRC, courses fully developed by the regional training body could be implemented by NUST.

During the opening session of the Eenhana VTC training, Mr. Tobias Nambala, the NTA General Manager of TVET Regulations, emphasised that “through joint efforts and mutual support in the TVET sector, we are able to harness the wealth of resources and expertise available at each institution to drive meaningful change and advancement in the field of renewable energy through technical and vocational education.” He further mentioned: “The trainers who are to be upskilled play a crucial role in shaping the technical and vocational education landscape of our country. Through their dedication and expertise, they will ensure that our TVET centres remain hubs of innovation and excellence, providing trainees with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in today’s dynamic world”.

The training focused on the theoretical aspect of sizing and designing as well maintenance of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The trainees actively participated in various practical activities of the real-life behavioural aspects of PV systems.

Moreover, prior to the training, three participants from a higher education institution and a TVET institution successfully operationalised an advanced PV system trailer funded by GIZ. The trailer had not been operational for about a year.

All participants at the Eenhana VTC training were awarded with certificates after successfully completing their courses.

The participants of the training series are now expected disseminate the information they have gathered and train solar technology installers to equip them with skills and knowledge required for accelerated installation of solar PV systems across Namibia.

By so doing, this will not only attempt to bridge the gap between NQF level 3 and Level 7, but will also cut across the emerging Power-to-X (PtX) value chains, including green hydrogen.

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