- On 7 and 8 March, Takoradi Technical University (TTU) hosted a workshop for women entitled (Ex)changing Perspectives.
- The event comprised of several workshops and panel discussions aimed at sharing diverse viewpoints on sustainability and renewable energy, and culminated in a celebratory Women’s Day event and grand prize-giving yesterday, where three young ladies won a 2-week study trip to Germany for their sustainable idea.
(Ex)changing Perspectives was organised by TTU, GREEN Solar Academy and Valentin Software as part of their develoPPP.de project in West Africa, the goal of which is to improve the skills base and employment opportunities for young solar installers in the region.
The aforementioned project partners have already set up a solar training centre at the university, which offers a comprehensive 3-week training on the design and installation of solar systems, paired with a robust internship programme. They were supported in their efforts through the supply of solar equipment from worldwide brands Jinko Solar, Victron Energy, Phocos and Fronius and solar distributors such as Tino Solutions, a technology partner of GREEN in Ghana, who provided components including solar modules, power inverters and lead acid batteries.
The training course has been extremely popular with the students, yet the number of females taking advantage of the training and job placement programme to explore opportunities in solar energy remained disappointingly low despite the diversity of the PV sector and the job opportunities that exist for women.
We needed a different approach to get more women interested in solar energy
And so the idea was born for a platform with a softer, broader appeal designed specifically to attract women and expose them to the myriad of careers available, no matter their background or specialty. This platform took the form of an event called (Ex)changing Perspectives and it was scheduled to coincide with and celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8.
GREEN Solar Academy founder and CEO Antje Klauss-Vorreiter explains how the theme of the event came about: “Having managed several solar energy projects in various African countries, I wanted to broadcast the message that we need to quit our Euro-centric thinking patterns and stop trying to transfer solutions. We need to trust that “developing countries” have the capacity to find solutions that sustainably work in their context and we need to focus on supporting these people rather than taking over. An interdisciplinary workshop like this one and an exchange of perspectives provides the ideal breeding ground for new solutions.”
Speakers and session moderators came from all around the globe: Antje and her GREEN Solar Academy co-founder and CPO, Vivian Blümel, and Jenny Kleinwächter, Sales Partner Manager at Valentin Software, hail from Germany; Sofia Salviani de Boseck, CEO of Studio Salviani, an architect and “urban change maker” is from Argentina; Amanda Dzivhani, COO of GREEN Solar Academy, is from South Africa; and lending perspectives closer to home were Dennis Wiredu Asare, CEO and founder of DWA Renewables and Delali Pearce Kphora, CEO and founder of Macht Energy, who are both based in Ghana. The whole event was brilliantly organised by TTU’s SRC, and their first female president since 1954, Grace Enyonam Goka, and the Centre for Gender and Advocacy (CEGENDA).
Just the beginning…
So successful has the (Ex)changing Perspectives conference been in igniting a passion for renewable energy among the participants and allowing for that vital dialogue across cultures and locales that Antje Klauss-Vorreiter will make it the focus of her panel discussion at the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue (BETD) later this month. The BETD takes place on 28 and 29 March and is an opportunity for high-level policymakers, industry, science and civil society from over 50 countries to share their experiences and ideas on a safe, affordable and environmentally-responsible global energy transition.
Are you a student or a solar company and want to know more?
Students who want to get a head-start in their career in solar energy are welcome to inquire about the 3-week PV Planner Course by contacting TTU Senior lecturer Dr. Stephen Afonaa Mensah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Solar companies interested in participating in the internship programme and contributing to upskilling youth in the PV industry, or who seek professional solar training for their staff and distributors, can get in touch with Dennis Wiredu Asare, the head of GREEN Solar Academy Ghana, at email@example.com.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal
GREEN Solar Academy is an independent, 100% female-owned training provider in the solar industry offering training for installers of photovoltaic solar systems in the African countries of South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, Togo, Mozambique and Ghana. GREEN (an acronym for Global Renewable Energy and Efficiency Network) is the African branch of DGS SolarSchool (DGS), and the successor to maxx-solar academy, which was founded in 2011.