The National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), has installed a solar powered electricity generation system as its primary source of power.
The CEO Dr. Ignasio Malizani Jimu explained that the move was triggered by the continuous power outages the country has been experiencing over the years.
“The motive was to ensure that we have continuous power supply. As you are aware that the country especially the 2016-2018 period experienced major power outages. This made it more difficult for us to operate and that led us to seek alternative power sources,” Dr. Jimu explained.
The CEO said that some of the challenges faced by the institution during power outages were: internet connection cuts and internal phone extensions became non-functional which affected efficiency, increased downtime and was overall demoralizing for the employees.
As far as the reason why the Council chose solar power over other alternatives; the CEO said that it was because of the reduced expenditure and the environmental benefits of using such a system.
“Initially, we were using a diesel generator as a back-up power source. However, our generator produced more power than we needed and so we were spending a lot. Though the initial investment for the solar system is high, in the long run, we will basically run on free energy except for occasional maintenance costs.”
“Other than that, diesel is not environmentally friendly as it produces carbon monoxide and other harmful gasses. Solar system therefore seemed to be more viable as it is considered clean energy,” he said.
He further outlined that using solar energy will ensure that employees are working in a safe and healthy environment. He said that knowingly or unknowingly, fumes from the generator are inhaled which poses a health risk for employees.
The project is funded by the World Bank and according to the CEO, its implementation serves as an important milestone for the Council as the vision to switch to solar power has been there since 2016.
“The installation of this system required a substantial amount of investment, something we could not do at the time. Along the way, when the World Bank funded the “Skills Development Project”, we engaged the World Bank to assist us with the system and in 2019 our request was approved.”
As it stands, the Council is expectant and hopes that with this system, there will be power throughout, utility bills will reduce, work will be efficient with no downtime and its carbon footprint will minimize. The Council is hopeful that with the success of the system, other institutions will learn from NCHE and emulate its example.