When the Acronis Cyber Foundation’s team first visited our Senegal school in November 2018, one of the immediate challenges is the difficulty of connecting to the electrical grid. With the increasing need to digitize schools and education, our organization started exploring the possibility of the benefits of installing solar panels. The installation of photovoltaic cells on such schools’ roofs for electricity production can give the students better access to education and bridge the digital gap faster.
Empowering the disconnected in Senegal
Senegal is mostly dependent on heavy fuel oil and diesel for power generation, both of which need to be imported. Their national electricity access rate of 55% is relatively high, with over 90% in urban centres but estimated to less than 30% in rural areas. Although the Government of Senegal has set targets to achieve universal access by 2025, many still have to contend with volatile and unreliable electricity supply.
Some households have off-grid connections, but rural electrification runs on a concessions program are awarded to bidders in a competitive tender. Schools in rural communities are generally worse off than those located in urban areas. Those schools situated in remote rural areas are often the last to be served from the education budget.
The power of electricity and technology
Communications with our Senegal school has been difficult, and they do not have the infrastructure required to keep things running smoothly. Despite them being last in line for resources, this school in the remote area has a more extensive local role than a school in an urban area. The school is the only institution serving 140 students in the rural area, not only for education but also for other community activities.
There is a Wolof proverb in Senegal that says, Xamxam dafay weey, xaalis dày jeex (Knowledge remains, money gets used up). The gift of knowledge lasts a lifetime, and we believe that it is foundational for sustainable change for the school community.
Please keep a lookout in the coming weeks as we unveil the transformation of our Senegal school!