Training and accompaniment essential to energy access for 2,000 households in Hilaweyn

Alianza Shire is in the process of distributing 2,000 photovoltaic home systems to provide access to basic electricity to 13,500 people in the Hilaweyn refugee camp.

These 12Vdc systems consist of a photovoltaic panel, battery and controller integrated into a single unit, LED lamps and connectors for charging and operating compatible electrical appliances. With this equipment it is possible, for example, to charge two mobile phones, torches, run a fan for four hours and watch TV for three hours during the day. And at night, the battery storage allows two LED lights to be used for five hours, TV to be watched and a fan to be operated for two hours.

In order for these benefits to be offered and for households to be able to take full advantage of them, on the one hand, the distribution of the systems must be accompanied by training to provide the beneficiary population with knowledge about installation, basic maintenance and the conditions for these services, and on the other hand, through training for the entities that are responsible for the systems and their maintenance.

The training workshops began last June, coinciding with a field mission by technicians from Alianza Shire of, AECID and itdUPM, and will continue over the coming weeks until the supply of the 2,000 systems is completed.

Considering the actors of the management model developed to provide access to electricity (and designed based on the experience of, the first training was given to members of the local energy cooperative Murukmale in the Hilaweyn region.

This training session focused on the fundamentals of the technological, economic and management model and its role as a system supplier, with the process of delivering the equipment to the beneficiary population.

In addition, aspects of preventive and corrective maintenance were addressed, along with the sale of compatible electrical appliances and business and commercial management, among others, such as the operation of the Pay-As-You-Go platform that will be used to manage the availability of electricity, which is necessary for the role of the person responsible for proximity care, technical support and maintenance of the systems.

Training was also provided for the trainers, i.e., the teams from the implementing partner organisations in the field, mainly Save the Environment Ethiopia (SEE), which is responsible for the household photovoltaic systems, so that in the coming months, together with the distribution of these systems by the cooperative to the beneficiary population, they can transmit the main keys for the operation of the equipment and the management and economic models.

The training for these organisations was complemented by a practical workshop in which, in addition to these, 20 people from the refugee camp and the Hilaweyn host community took part. Not only was the operation and installation of the system and everything related to the management and economic model explained, but the users also went on to pay their contributions for the first time to MFI; the microfinance institution with which the energy cooperative has opened an account to process the contributions from the beneficiary households.

At the end of the training of trainers, and as a kick-off for the next training session for the beneficiary population, a ceremony was held to inaugurate this phase of the training and distribution project, attended by authorities from UNHCR, RRS, Woreda and Kebelle, as well as ZOA, SEE, the energy cooperative,, AECID and itdUPM.

The event and the first training session for the beneficiary population, in which the organisations put into practice what they had learned, culminated in the signing of the first contracts between the beneficiaries and the cooperative, the delivery of the receipt for payment of the first instalment, and the generation of the first pay-as-you-go code to be entered into the photovoltaic system, which was then handed over to the representative of each household for installation. The introduction of this code in the system allows the energy generated to be available for the period paid for, which is one month.

The training workshops for the beneficiary population will continue over the coming months until the distribution of the 2,000 home photovoltaic systems has been completed. It is expected that at least the same number of people will participate, with an overall impact on the 13,500 people in Hilaweyn who will benefit from the electricity service they provide.