The Gambia Solar Energy Project is an initiative within the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering which is committed to providing sustainable light and energy solutions to rural schools and communities within The Gambia.
The installations provide schools with a small amount of power and classroom lighting, allowing students to study into the dark evenings, a luxury which is not possible in the many un-electrified rural villages.
When did the project begin?
The project started in 2006 with an approach from local children from Fintry Primary School. They wanted our help to install solar power at their twin school at Sambel Kunda in rural Gambia. We willingly took up this challenge.
A team of academics, researchers and students raised funds, sourced equipment, designed solar power systems and visited the Gambia in September 2006 and March 2007. With the help of GamSolar, a Gambian solar energy business, the team installed DC lighting and AC power to Sambel Kunda Lower Basic School. They also provided DC lighting and power, to run a medical fridge in the Alexander Edwards Health Clinic in Sambel Kunda. The team instigated the installation of a telecommunications link in Sambel Kunda village providing a telephone and internet connection to the Lower Basic School.
These initial installations were so successful that the department was approached directly by neighbouring communities asking for help.
More requests for solar power installation have followed and, funding permitting, we plan to action these in the near future.
In the recent installation expeditions to The Gambia, the teams have already witnessed the tangible benefits of previous installations. Excess energy is being used to charge mobile phones and the revenue from this has been used to provide well-needed educational resources for the schools.
The following table lists some of the project's achievements.
two solar installations and medical fridge in the clinic at Horse & Donkey Veterinary Lab
|2008||three solar installations in Sinchu Gunho and Kudang.|
|2009||two solar installations in Mamud Fana and Bantanto.|
|2012||PV solar system installation in Ker Malima|
Project partners & sponsors
The achievements of the Gambia Solar Energy Project have only been made possible due to key partnerships with other like-minded organisations, based in both Scotland and The Gambia.
Fintry Primary School and Gambian Institute for Teacher Training in Scotland (GIFTS)
The Gambia Solar Energy Project was established in 2006 following the twinning of Fintry Primary School in Scotland with Sambel Kunda Lower Basic School in the Gambia..
Gambian Institute for Teacher Training in Scotland (GIFTS), established at Fintry Primary School in 2006, has seen teachers from Sambel Kunda Lower Basic School travel to Scotland to undertake advanced teacher training. It's also enabled Anna Dolan, teacher at Fintry Primary School to travel to Gambia with the first installation team in 2006 to further train teachers at Sambel Kunda. GIFTS is responsible for the sending of over 20 boxes of essential teaching materials to Gambian classrooms.
In 2007 the partnership between the University of Strathclyde and GIFTS won 2 Careers Scotland Awards for Best Partnership and Citizenship.
Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust
The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust is based in Sambel Kunda, and since the first trip in 2006, has provided Strathclyde’s engineers with accommodation and much-needed transport during the installations.
The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust was established to reduce rural poverty by increasing productivity of working horses and donkeys through animal welfare and management education. The trust employs local workers to educate the rural farming community on correct care and diet for their animals. International veterinary volunteers provide specialist training for the trust.
As part of the 2008 trip, the Strathclyde team installed lighting and power to the Horse and Donkey Trust Laboratory.
How can I be involved?
Each year new installation sites are identified, and a new team of undergraduates is recruited to undertake the challenge of designing the solar power system, assist the existing team in preparation for the installation, and travel to Gambia to install the system. The team are responsible for identifying sources of funding and taking part in various fundraising activities to purchase equipment.
If you're an undergraduate student studying in the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and are interested in the Gambia project, contact Dr Scott Strachan.
Ongoing funding is vital to securing the continued success of the Gambia Solar Energy Project. If you, or your organisation, would like to become involved, sponsor future projects, or receive more information, please contact Dr Scott Strachan.
To donate directly to the Gambia Solar Energy Project you can do this online by going to our Give2Gambia page.