By Selma Shiwaya
The Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) recently electrified Otjikojo and Ongongo primary schools in Kunene region. The initiative, which forms part of the Foundation’s 3-year Pilot Project, Promoting Renewable Energies in Namibia (PREN), aims to electrify off-grid rural schools with renewable energy.
At a cost of N$ 500 000 the initiative included the installation of 3-kilowatt solar power systems at the two schools, replacement of energy inefficient lights at Ongongo and the installation of new energy efficient lights at Otjikojo. Meanwhile the Ohaijuua primary school solar system was repaired and modernized with a lithium ion.
Speaking during the occasion, resident representative of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, Clemens von Doderer said that the beneficiary pilot schools were selected based on the distance from the electricity grid and the number of learners at the school.
Von Doderer further emphasised on the importance of primary education saying that it fulfills the special needs of learners during the first few years of their schooling life. “In as much as we want to support combined schools, primary education has specific goals that make it a critical component of an educational system as a whole,” he said.
“Contributing to the quality education of our rural learners is both exiting and heart-warming”, added von Doderer.
With reference to Germany’s energy transition to renewable energy, Deputy German ambassador to Namibia Ellen Gölz remarked that Namibia has great potential for increasing the share of renewables in its energy production saying that it could become an important factor in the Namibian economy contributing to the wellbeing of many Namibians.
Gölz also mentioned that although the solar systems inaugurated may not seem large to the energy demands of the region it nevertheless will make a big difference to all who benefit from it. “Learners will have lights for their studies and it has improved the hostel’s safety and security,” she said.
Director of energy at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, John Titus stated that for a number of reasons the electricity grid will not reach all corners of Namibia in the near future. “The rural electrification distribution master plan has identified areas where grid electricity will remain unfeasible in the foreseeable future. Therefore, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, together with the partners and stakeholders, is addressing these areas with solar power,” he assured.
Titus further called on all stakeholders to join the government in order to reach its bold target of electrifying all public institutions by 2020 as stated in the Harambee Prosperity Plan. “Let us continue with this cooperation for the benefit of the Namibian child,” he concluded.
Also, speaking at the same occasion, special advisor to the Governor of Kunene region, Katuutire Kaura lauded the Hanns Seidel Foundation for electrifying the schools saying that the two schools have joined all the developed areas where the sun never goes down at night.
“If my generation (which include the current President his excellency Hage Geingob) who did not have many privileges enjoyed by youth of today were able to study in the United States (US) and teach in the US, then the current generation of learners can do more”, he encouraged.
Kaura also thanked the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany and German taxpayers for supporting the schools. He also mentioned the benefits of having solar power and encouraged others to acquire solar systems.
Director of Directorate of Education, Arts and Culture in Kunene region, Angeline Jantze expressed her profound appreciation to the Hanns Seidel Foundation and its partner for going an extra mile to ensure that it contribute to the provision of quality education.
She further called on parents to seize the opportunity and sent learners to school. “Parents assist our children, bring those ones who are still behind livestock to school,” she said, adding that now that the school has reliable energy it is expected of you learners to study hard and improve your performance.
At the occasion Jantze also reminded the school that the registration of it to benefit from the school feeding programme has been finalized and will soon have three meals a day.
The head boy of Otjikojo Primary School, Mbalyatelako Tjiuana thanked HSF for the donation made to the school saying that it has made a huge difference in their lives. “We highly appreciate it as we can now almost perform every activity or task that requires electricity. Previously, we only had afternoon study sessions due to insufficient power and we could also not watch educational videos using projectors due to the poor power supply. At the hostel side we did not have power at all thus we slept in darkness, which was not safe to all of us
Tjiuana also urged other institutions to support the school with learning resources. “We ask you to support us with learning resources we need in order to perform all our learning activities. We need wifi and computers at the school to aid our learning,” he said.
So far four schools have been electrified through the PREN project.
The solar panels have a life span of up to 25 years and if well maintained the modern ion lithium can last for 10 years or more.
The PREN Project’s mandate is to electrify schools and is geared to support the efforts of the Namibian Government. However, the overall objective of the Project is to contribute to an increased use and understanding of renewable energies and resource and energy efficiency, especially in rural areas of Namibia.