UCU wins sh5 billion renewable energy consortia grant

By Frank Obonyo

Uganda Christian University (UCU) in a consortium of five other universities has won a 5 billion Uganda shillings grant to implement renewable energy project.

The project is for Development of new Academic curricular on sustainable energies and green economy in Africa (DALILA). It is a multidisciplinary project that aims at unlocking technical and economic capabilities of younger generation in renewable energy sector in Uganda and Tanzania.

The implementing universities include; UCU, Uganda Martyrs University, University of Dodoma and State University of Zanzibar.

The three-year project that started this year will end in 2022 and is funded by the European Union Commission through Erasmus+ programme which supports education capacity building and training in higher education.

The project is coordinated by Sapienza University of Rome in Italy and it has University of Cadiz in Spain as another supporting European partner. The consortium also has expert companies such as; INOMA Renovables in Spain, Savanah Ventures in Tanzania and ASUD Ecology e Cooperation in Italy.

The companies will support implementing universities to understand specific labour market demand so as to meet local needs of entrepreneurship. Through special info days organised at partner universities, they shall advance a case for clean technology. The DALILA Project Coordinator, Professor Katiuscia Cipri of Sapienza University in Rome says the program will enable Ugandans and Tanzanians to improve competencies in renewable energy technology and business.

She said academic staff in Africa and Europe will share skills, competency and teaching methodology because students under this project in the six partner universities will study the same course units.

The students, who will mainly come from the Business Faculty and Engineering department at UCU will have the opportunity to study both technical and business courses in renewable energy sector.

Katiuscia added that for sustainability of the project, the universities shall continue with offering renewable energy courses when the project funding ends.

She said the universities have the responsibility of integrating the project to their respective government’s renewable energy strategy and linking up students with local companies for job opportunities.

The UCU Project Leader, Godfrey Sempungu, said that students under this project shall have subsidised tuition and a given number of best students shall be eligible for internship in Europe.

“They will spend four weeks studying and practicing courses on renewable energy and business at Sapienza University of Rome and University of Cadiz,” said Sempungu. He also adds that they are immensely grateful to the European commission for this grant to support the capacity building in Higher education in Africa.

He said at the end of the project, students should be able to startup businesses in line with renewable energy and also have a wider contemporary appreciation of clean energy in business.

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In addition to offering courses on renewable energy technologies and green business creation through incubation, implementing universities will through this grant setup green laboratories to enable teaching of both technical and business/economic courses. These green labs are expected to be a hub where student and faculty practice and research related to renewable technologies will be done.

 

The various training units (wind-solar hybrid and hydro) proposed in the labs will enable students to appreciate requirements for distribution of electricity generated through the grid.

UCU has already started on the development of modules/curriculum in renewable and green energy, next year 2021 this project is expected to increase students’ enrolment, fill the local skills gap in renewable energy sector, enhance capacity of academic staff and laboratory use for renewable energy and sustainable business practice among others.

The students who will enroll in this project will study both economic/business courses together with technical courses. This shall give them an all-round appreciation of renewable energy.

All the courses are expected to support business and enterprises in renewable energy.

Among others, courses shall be in Renewable Energy Technologies and Decentralization of Electricity, Energy and Sustainable Development, financial models for renewable energy, renewable energy enterprise management, etc.

These courses will equip students in energy efficiency and its application in carrying out all types of energy-dependent activities such as manufacturing products and heating/cooling buildings etc.

The project in the long term will equip local communities with skills in cheap and clean sources of energy for cooking and lighting. It will also increase cooperation and exchange of skill between partners.

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