NUL wins energy grant

NUL wins energy grant

ROMA – MORE than 40 African universities lined up for funding to strengthen their Sustainable Energy programmes through Carbon Trust’s project called Transforming Energy Access (TEA).
Only eight universities made it.
“The National University of Lesotho (NUL) was among them,” said the Dr Moeketsi Mpholo who is leading the NUL Energy Research Centre which prepared the application.
The funders did not only give the money, they made sure that their opinion of the NUL MSc in Sustainable Energy program was known.
This is what they said, “we believe that your existing programme is already of an excellent quality, and very well suited to providing the necessary technical and socio-economic skills.”
However, how did we end up here?

For the TEA project, Carbon Trust is itself funded by the United Kingdom (UK) Department for International Development (DFID).
So Carbon Trust administered the call for proposals for African universities to apply to strengthen their Renewable Energy programmes or create new ones.
NUL got interested.
But there was a problem.
Lesotho is not a priority country for DFID.
That means when it comes to funding, Lesotho should always take the back seat and eat only when others are full.
“So we were like, should we apply at all?” Dr Mpholo said.

It was a long shot. But he and his team applied anyway.
Maybe they knew a thing or two about these words of wisdom by Nora Roberts, “If you ask, the answer may be yes, or No. If you don’t ask, the answer is always No.”
They had nothing to lose.
So they sat down and made a very good application.
After all, since they were not a priority, they had to go for a kill or do nothing.
They were armed with years of experience of developing one of the most interesting Master’s Programs the NUL has ever seen.

After submission, they were almost forgetting the whole thing when they got a notice.
They were among the few shortlisted universities from all over Africa.
They were now required to write a lengthy full proposal—which they did with passion.
In any case, reaching this stage was already a bonus in itself.
In the end, the impossible happened.
They had cruised past more than 40 other African sister universities to be among the only eight to be funded!
The message was, and it is still clear.
Undermine NUL at your own risk.
But what was NUL asking for?

Well, they already have a full and running program, called MSc in Sustainable Energy.
They wanted to review the programme in time for the next accreditation process by Lesotho’s Council on Higher Education (CHE).
They were seeking funding to review all courses in the entire program.
Carbon Trust had identified one great course within the entire program whose upgrade is bound to add tremendous value to the whole program.
The course is called “Sustainable Energy Solutions for Communities.”

To understand why the course took the attention of Carbon Trust, take a look at its synopsis below as taken from the NUL Energy Research Centre website.
Successful projects need to be sustainable hence meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.
For energy projects to be sustainable, they not only have to meet the technological, environmental, economic and financial parameters, but more importantly, they have to satisfy the social needs.
Hence, energy project developers have to appreciate and understand social needs to avoid their projects turning into white elephants.
The course deals with the following matters: Developing a common understanding of the energy requirements and use, sustainable energy solutions for rural communities in Southern Africa and in particular in Lesotho, gender and energy provision of optimal sustainable energy requirements for rural communities.

It also deals with community participation in sustainable energy solutions, current energy solutions and their sustainability, designing of practical and affordable energy solutions, and appropriate energy technology projects.
Who wouldn’t be interested in a course with such noble goals?
But that is the course as it is now. The proponents want to deepen the objectives of the course to ensure it makes the maximum impact.

As NUL emphasises more on innovation (in short, innovation is being practical) the course is redesigned in such a manner that students will now create tangible energy solutions that can be turned into business to create real impact in people’s lives!
“That is where we want to place our M800 000! In fact, we are planning to pump more in the future,” Dr Mpholo said.

Own Correspondent


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