Green energy in Africa: ANSAP is helping alumni to advance their ideas
The energy project Alumni Network and Support for African Participants (ANSAP) relies on the ideas and know-how of African alumni. In cooperation with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and The Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, it is being launched by RENAC energy and climate gGmbH from Berlin. This internationally aligned training provider specialises in technologies relating to renewable energies and energy efficiency. RENAC managing director Berthold Breid explains who can participate in the programme and how it benefits alumni.
Mr Breid, what does the ANSAP project entail?
There are many Africans who studied or completed their training in Germany and are equipped with technical know-how relating to the technologies behind renewable energies and energy efficiency. What they don’t have is the opportunity to network via peer groups. They find it difficult to discover who else in their home country is involved in similar topics and projects relating to the green energy sector. This is where our project comes in – we’re creating a platform on which alumni from all African countries can exchange ideas and find partners. We’re also offering an online training programme to help participants develop their green energy project concepts.
What does this training include?
It involves know-how regarding technology, efficiency and green energy project engineering. We’ve been training participants from over 160 countries for 12 years now, and we have access to a network of proven experts from the energy technology and financial sectors. This will benefit alumni in the ANSAP programme who want to advance sustainable energy projects in their home regions.
They will be able to further develop their proposals in close exchange with our network of mentors. Our project development and financial experts will also assist them in creating viable business plans. This will result in a bankable proposal that increases their chances of obtaining funding. The training is designed to be completely virtual and is organised primarily via online workshops and video conferences.
Is this format down to the coronavirus restrictions?
The logic behind it was already conceived prior to the pandemic. We basically offer a lot of our training or capacity building services online and have experienced good success in doing so. It makes sense to provide virtual training programmes when a large number of participants are attending from different countries. This saves on travel costs and represents climate protection in action. The format does however come with the disadvantage of not being able to meet each other in person. Although we can conversely use digital means to reach target groups who would otherwise be unable to participate in ANSAP.
Who can apply?
Whereas the platform encourages exchange among alumni from all African countries, the training and mentoring programme is aimed at interested parties from the nine partner countries in the BMZ ‘Green People’s Energy for Africa’ initiative with which we closely collaborate – Benin, the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Uganda and Zambia. ANSAP is focusing on alumni who have already dealt with aspects of renewable energies or energy efficiency as part of their studies or training in Germany.
They should have the technical skills, but don’t require a designated ‘green’ degree. Applicants could for instance include someone who studied straight electrical engineering in Germany and now wants to initiate a project relating to renewable energies in their home country.
How many places are available?
The programme is initially scheduled to run for two years, with in each case 60 alumni participating per year. The online training is due to last three to four months followed by an examination phase and graduation with a certificate. The training is linked to a mentoring programme for which 20 of the graduates can qualify. This is a thoroughly competitive component in which the quality of the final projects is the deciding factor. The programme ends with virtual pitch sessions in which participants in the final round present their results to experts, potential partners or financiers.
What is special about this programme?
We are taking a holistic approach and creating a space where alumni are accompanied and supported by experienced experts. This involves us working closely with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, with GIZ or with African associations directly on the ground who are all significant multipliers in implementing these sustainable energy projects. Our programme imparts to alumni exactly the expertise they need to enable them to put their ideas into practice. This is good for them personally – and for their country of origin.
When will the project be launched?
It kicks off in May 2021 with the training applications. We’re integrating ANSAP into the DAAD Alumniportal Deutschland – a perfect match in our view. It is focused on the interests and news concerning international alumni and offers us all the important technical features required to build a strong community. A sub-section of the portal enables alumni from all African countries to register for exchange via the ANSAP community and to network on topics such as renewable energies, sustainability or environmental protection. A registration form on the RENAC website is used to register for the online training, which requires a curriculum vitae and a statement explaining the motivation for registering.