The combination of new technology and renewable energy sources offers an effective response to the demand for energy in many parts of Africa, especially in rural areas.

SUSTAIN (Sustainable Future Students African Italian Network) is an initiative of ENEA (the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) to support partnerships between Italian and African schools interested in developing educational projects together. Access to renewable energy, specifically solar power, was the subject of a truly special project involving schools from Italy and Burkina Faso.

There is no electricity grid connection at Fada N’Gourma. Water is collected in buckets and carried by hand from the few wells, is often not fit to drink and is not enough to grow crops during the long arid season. This led to the idea of setting up a joint project for students and teachers from the Righi Technical Institute in Taranto and the Centre de Formation Professionnelle in Fada, which resulted in training courses and a photovoltaic system that provides the school with lighting.

Prosper Ouedraogo, an engineer and a teacher, is well aware of the importance of being able to depend on having access to energy, “This project enables us to share knowhow and technology and to build solar energy systems in our villages” for lighting homes and schools, but also for improving agricultural yields, as these underpin the fragile local economy.

The Italian students add, “We built the photovoltaic system and also produced a manual with all the technical specifications for its installation and operation”. Courses on the photovoltaic systems are held both in Italy and in Burkina Faso to train young local technicians to install them and to promote their wider use. Giustino Melchionne is the teacher in charge of the project, “We are convinced about the importance of this experience, which proves that we can help work towards a sustainable future for all, right here, right now”.

The students’ ambitions do not end here – they want to extend the use of solar energy-powered appliances to pumps, mills, ovens, radios, mobile phones, computers, refrigerators, water purification plants and to take energy from the school to the village… and into the future!

Project "Educarsi al Futuro"