Mercy Corps, a non-governmental organization operating in Liberia, has begun a 36-month training program for Liberian youth in renewable energy with the aim of building the capacities of those interested in working in the energy sector in rural areas.
“In order to achieve this goal, we are in the business of providing training for technicians and would-be technicians so as to build their capacities to work in rural areas to enable people there have access to clean renewable energy services,” said Mercy Corps Energy Specialist Cephas Tetteh.
The project, he said, is funded by the European Union (EU) not only to provide renewable energy, but to enable interested participants to have access to finance to build their livelihoods.
The training brings together participants, some of who are graduates of local universities, including the Stella Maris Polytechnic and the United Methodist University (UMU).
“By that, we want to calibrate their efforts so that this opportunity will not just pass by. For that, we are conducting the training in three phases beginning with the basic solar technical training to intermediary and then advance training,” Tetteh added.
He said the training is inductively arranged “so that the known will bring the unknown,” as they do not want to burden participants with information that may cause them to lose interest.
Tetteh said the training targets 50 participants at a time, including ten females.
Solar energy is much cheaper and affordable than other forms of renewable energy, he said, adding, “Wind energy is one kind of renewable energy, but we do not have sufficient wind here to propel the instrument that can produce that energy. Here we have more sunlight that can produce solar energy, and the solar panel lasts for a long time.”
Besides sunlight and the duration of solar panels, he said there are different sizes of solar panels that anyone can afford based on his/her income, and that materials for repair are also available.
Regarding access to finance, Mr. Tetteh said as they train the participants, they will connect them with institutions that need their skills and knowledge so they can work and earn money to sustain themselves.
“We will not take cash to put into their hands because if we do, we will be encouraging laziness. But what we do is to train and connect them to institutions that will need their services,” he said.
Emmanuel Tweh, a participant who was trained in electricity at Humanity First, a vocational training institution, said: “I am interested in this program so much because it complements my previous knowledge in electricity, and I want to gain more ideas in various sources of electricity to fully build my capacity.”
Rebecca Dolo, a UMU accounting graduate, said it is expedient to undergo the training, even at an advanced level, “because knowledge is not a waste.”
Stephen Kaifa, a participant who believes that he has the potential to study electronics and electricity, said the training is a great opportunity to help build his capacity to realize his dream.
For first time trainee Samuelina Bewetee, she said she has so far learned how to connect some accessories onto the solar panel and can identify the best position for the panels to receive maximum sunlight.