European Union Delegation Visits Anambra, Sets to Train Youths on Solar Technology

Apr 18, 2024 - 10:16
European Union Delegation Visits Anambra, Sets to Train Youths on Solar Technology


By Izunna Okafor, Awka

Anambra State has been chosen as the venue for the Solar Hands-on Training and International Network of Exchange (SHINE) project, a capacity-building project, funded by the European Union (EU) Commission.

Mr. Lagarde Sergio, a Spanish capacity-building expert and staff of Mundus, a Spain-based company, disclosed this in Awka, the capital city of Anambra State on Wednesday, when the delegation and project team visited the Special Adviser to Governor Chukwuma Soludo on Youth Empowerment Programme, Dr. Nelson Omenugha, for interaction on the project.

The delegation comprised representatives from the various companies and countries that consort in the project, including Mundus (Spain), Zubigune Fundazica (Spain), AKMI (Greece), INCLUDE Knowledge Platform (Netherlands), JOBITECH (Nigeria), Pan-Atlantic University (Nigeria), Start-up SME Centres, SSC (Ghana), Suame Technical Institute (Ghana), Kiryandongo Training Institute (Uganda), and Huys Link Vocational Training Centre (Uganda).

Speaking at the event, Sergio explained that SHINE is a capacity-building project funded by the EU Commission, and which seeks to drive the green transition and enhance energy access in the benefiting countries. He added that the goal of the project is to create an impactful program that will equip young people with solar technology skills for both the immediate and future benefits.

According to him, the project has a duration target of 36 months (3 years) and involves 10 organizations from Europe and Africa, which comprise Vocational Education Training (VET) providers and stakeholders from the educational and industrial sectors, as well as policymakers. These organisations and stakeholders, he said, work together and collaboratively in the project, to redesign a market-oriented VET program focused on solar panel technology, on which they will train the youths (the trainees) under the project.

While noting that the project will have a pilot phase from which it will be expanded, Sergio also revealed that the choice of Anambra as the location for the project was informed by certain factors they believe will help the project thrive in the country and Africa at large.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the Leader of the team and Director of the Johnbosco Institute of Technology (JOBITECH), Rev. Fr. Christopher Anso, said the delegation was in the state on a study visit, to see and study the situation on ground vis-a-vis solar technology sector, and then develop a solar technology training model and curriculum that can be more entrepreneurial and impactful, such that when the youths or the trainees are trained using the curriculum, they will become more viable, more productive, more skillful and self-employed.

He explained that the consortium involves six countries — three countries from Europe (Spain, Greece, and Netherlands) and three countries from Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda) — adding that the kick-off meeting had earlier been held in Spain where Mundus, the coordinating body in the project, is located. He said the kick-off meeting in Spain was then followed by study visits to the other five countries involved in the project, and which, he said, brought them to Anambra, being the chosen state for the study visit and the project implementation in Nigeria.

Giving more overview on the initiative, Fr. Anso said the project has a general objective of delivering an innovative capacity building program in Solar Technology Training, with some specific objectives. These objectives, he said, will also help to ensure environmental sustainability, economic diversification, among many other broad and specific benefits to the participants, the state, and the country at large.

Responding, the Special Adviser to Governor Chukwuma Soludo on Youth Empowerment Programme, Dr. Omenugha, on behalf of the Governor, welcome the delegation to Anambra, and expressed gratitude for their choice of Anambra State as the location for the SHINE project in Nigeria, out of many other states in the country.

He said the Governor had long begun to prove his keen interest in the solar technology sector and youth empowerment, which he has shown through the various projects and initiatives so far championed by his administration, such as conversion of all diesel-powered streetlights in the state to solar streetlights, as well as training and empowerment of the youths in many skills, including solar technology.

While noting that many appointees in Soludo's government are also youths, Dr. Omenugha, a lecturer and media communication expert, further recounted some of the various youth-oriented programme so far championed by the government, such as the One Youth Two Skills, Solution Innovation Districts, as well as the massive recruitment in the educational and health sectors, most of the beneficiaries of whom are also youths, among other initiatives of the government that target and benefit the youths.

Speaking further, he said the first phase of the One Youth, Two Skills saw the training of 5000 youths on different skills, including ICT (hardware and software), solar, CCTV, confectionery, automobile repair, welding, fashion design, etc, who were, thereafter, empowered with one million naira each, as start-up fund. He added that plans were already on ground to launch the second phase of the initiative, with a target of 10,000 youths.

While underscoring the need to engage more youths in the solar technology, Dr. Omenugha also highlighted the environmental benefits of solar energy and its potential to create a cleaner and healthier society, and also empower the people financially.

Addressing concerns raised by participants regarding challenges faced by youths in venturing into the solar industry, he acknowledged such issues as fear of starting small and lack of initial capital; even as he emphasized the importance of learning through practical experience (learning by doing) and proper marketing of one's brand and skills, adding that the problems of the youths can only be solved by the youths themselves. He also expressed optimism about the potential impacts of the SHINE project in Anambra State and Nigeria at large.

While assuring the delegation of the Soludo Administration's willingness and readiness to partner with the SHINE project, he also revealed that the Governor had given his office the mandate to carry out youth-oriented initiatives and even engage in any partnership that will be beneficial to the youths in the state.

Dr. Omenugha further suggested to the team to consider establishing a short certification program/course in Solar Technology at the state-owned Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, which has about 23,000 young people, adding that such program is necessary, as it will still continue running and remain sustained beyond the duration of the current (SHINE) project.

Others who spoke at the meeting included Santo Astorumo from Italy, Juan Cadin Dusin, Kojo Adu from Ghana, Enock Fsabirye from Uganda, Bua Leone from Uganda, Victoria Manga from Nigeria but based in Netherlands, Dominic Philemon from Nigeria, and Johnbosco Ibekwe from Nigeria.

Among others, the interactive session, and the presentation of the book “Partners in Nation Building”, authored by Dr. Omenugha, to the members of the delegation, formed the highpoints of the meeting.

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Izunna Okafor Izunna Okafor is an award-winning Nigerian novelist, poet, journalist, essayist, editor, translator, publicist, Igbo language activist and administrator who hails from Ebenator in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria. He writes perfectly in English and Igbo languages, and has published several books in both languages. He has received over 25 awards, and has over 2000 articles published online, both nationally and internationally, cutting across creative writing and journalism. See his full profile at: