The Sarah Obama Solar Learning Centre (SOSLC) is a vocational training center for solar energy and energy efficiency in western Kenya. Godmother of the project is solar ambassador Sarah Obama, a resident of the region and Barack Obama’s grandmother . The training course for solar technicians at the SOSLC was first held in 2013. Since then, the training has been continuously updated and now takes place annually in three blocks instead.
The primary objective of the course is to train professionals in solar technology. In addition to the theoretical lessons at the SOSLC the budding solar technicians complete a practical training part at the solar company Kenya Solar Solutions (KSS). In addition to the technical expertise, a focus on corporate governance has been added this year. This is intended to aid graduates to be able to run their own solar energy company.
In the district of Homa Bay, in western Kenya, in 2010 only 2.7% of households had electricity. The expansion of the electricity network is not foreseen in these regions in the near future. Costly diesel generators are usually used to generate electricity or oil lamps for light. Solar energy is a convenient and effective solution to locally generate electricity.
Due to lack of training facilities for technicians and craftsmen in the solar industry, a large part of working solar technicians in Kenya are not or poorly trained. According to Francis Njoka, a solar experts of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), only around one third of over 300,000 solar energy systems are installed correctly. Unfortunately, this greatly reduces the confidence in solar technology because only properly installed and maintained solar energy systems can provide an affordable and sustainable alternative to oil lamps and diesel generators.
The Sarah Obama Solar Learning Centre (SOSLC) was founded in 2013 in order to address the lack of competent solar professionals, the high unemployment rate of young adults and the prevailing energy poverty in the Homa Bay region of western Kenya. Annually 45 solar technicians are trained at the Centre. To date, 39 solar technicians were successfully trained and have installed more than 150 solar energy systems in schools, hospitals, pharmacies and huts.
In addition to the theoretical lessons at the SOSLC, the budding solar technicians complete a practical training part at the solar company Kenya Solar Solutions (KSS), which was built by graduates of the training in 2013. Through the electrification of the region, its economic and social development goes hand in hand with the spread of renewable energy and climate protection.
To annually train 45 technicians and entrepreneurs at the Sarah Obama Solar Learning Centre. Thereby pursuing the following aims:
1) Increase of trained solar specialists
2) Increase of solar companies
3) Improved access to solar energy