Cameroon, plagued by electricity shortages and climate stresses, is training a new generation of students to develop renewable energy businesses, according to a report on trust.org.
The West-Central African nation’s higher education institutions are stepping up their efforts to provide students with the skills that they need to embark on careers in the development and proliferation of renewable energy technologies.
One programme that is becoming particularly popular in Cameroon’s universities is training for solar energy technicians. Maurice Aurelien Sosso, rector of the University of Yaounde 1, told trust.org that whilst demand for Cameroon’s renewables sector is growing, the country currently lacks human resources to plan, design, install, monitor and maintain energy systems.
“The constant rise in energy costs, the problem of persistent (power) blackouts and most importantly increasing awareness of climate change have pushed the business of renewable and alternative energy use in Cameroon to grow tremendously in the past few years,” Sosso said.
The first training programme aimed at tackling this deficit was created by the ministry of higher education in 2013. ‘Solar Technicians Made in Cameroon’ was an instant hit and universities have since followed suit by starting up similar courses.
“We think harnessing these specialised training opportunities is needed as a sustainable solution to the economic development deficit in the country, especially in the area of energy supply,” said Minister of Water and Energy Basile Atangana Kouna.
Investing in people and infrastructure development is a requirement that the country must accomplish if it is to overcome urgent problems of energy shortages, rural poverty and climate change, Kouna added.
“Cameroon’s engineers and entrepreneurs hitherto lacked the skills needed to develop clean energy projects like solar power and biogas production,” he said.
Before 2013, graduates had to travel to foreign universities to participate in such training but few could afford to relocate. “Now this training opportunity is on their doorstep, they should…grab it,” the minister said.
Image via World Bank Photo Collection / cc