On Tuesday July 17, the Minister of Energy and Mines, Aly Ngouille Ndiaye, made a special visit to Soudiane, where his night was illuminated by the community’s solar panels and discussion of Tostan’s Solar Power! Project.
Those accompanying Minister Ndiaye included the Governor of the Fatick region, the Prefect of Fatick, the Sub-prefect of Fimela, journalists from the Senegalese Television Service, and his communications team.
The community welcomed the delegation with singing and dancing. Dame Guèye, Tostan’s Head of Development and Community Management Committee Support, immediately whisked the visitors off to a workshop led by Marième Bamba, a solar engineer trained at the Barefoot College
Since 2009, Tostan has partnered with the Barefoot College to send women from within Tostan’s Empowered Communities Network (ECN) to India for a six-month tra ining in solar panel installation , maintenance, and repair. Upon returning, these women, like Marième Bamba, work to electrify their communities with solar energy and train others on these techniques. The Solar Power! Project is an ongoing initiative at Tostan and one that the Minister was very interest ed in supporting.
Dame Guèye explained to the Minister that the project’s aim is to empower communities to provide low-cost and sustainable electricity for themselves. The project builds on the lessons learned in Tostan’s three-year Community Empowerment Program (CEP), by allowing co mmunities t he opportunity to put their knowledge into practice, leading and managing their own solar power development.
The Minister was very im pressed by Marième Bamba’s work in the village. Since returning in 2010, Marème has installed 50 solar panels in her community as well as 50 moving lights, 100 fixed lamps, and 50 chargers for mobile phones. She explained that she is very grateful to her communi ty, Tostan, a nd the Barefoot College for selecting her for such a life changing educational experience.
In a closing speech to the community members of Soudiane, the Minister thanked Tostan and expressed his desire to collaborate and help spread this project to other villages. In particular, h e highlighted the educational impact by saying, “this project is very important for youth who study in this village, and we will make efforts to support this program.” He concluded by promising that his department would look into how they could best assist Tostan and the many communities that continue to live without electricity.