Initiated by the NGO Friendship, represented by Runa Khan, a prominent figure in Bangladesh and long-standing partner of the ENGIE Foundation, the project involves installing solar panels (Solar Home Systems) in poor villages along the Brahmaputra Valley.
Objective: to generate enough electricity to power a few light bulbs, a phone charger, an electric fan or a refrigerator. The energy produced is reliable and sustainable, and can replace kerosene lamps at an affordable cost to families.
The project consisted of four phases:
– Phase 1: selection of solar panel solution;
– Phase 2: installation of 500 off-grid microgrids benefiting 2,500 families;
– Phase 3: distribution of 2,000 additional panels and provision of training to 2,500 beneficiaries for panel maintenance;
– Phase 4: distribution of 1,600 additional panels and provision of training to 1,300 people (500 solar panel electricians and 800 beneficiaries) in order to empower local populations.
– Phase 5: creation of a “solar village” with the installation of a minigrid for 120 homes that cannot yet access the solar panels.
Many beneficial effects have already been seen in the villages, particularly in terms of education. With the arrival of electricity, bringing with it the possibility to work into the evening, there has been a noticeable improvement in school attainment, particularly at secondary school level (98.2% of pupils achieved grades of A and A- in the national school certificate). These pupils enjoy pre-recorded lessons delivered via video link, and have access to qualified teachers, as a result of the solar panel energy and computing rooms provided.
Based on these positive outcomes, the Bangladeshi government has provided financial support for the programme. Friendship has been chosen by the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief for the installation of 1,646 solar panels within the context of the national programme KABITA. The NGO has also been selected by IDCOL as a partner for its funding programme for low-capacity solar systems to benefit the poorest populations.
Role of the ENGIE Foundation
The involvement of the ENGIE Foundation is two-fold:
– provision of financial support from 2010 to 2018 (current term 2015-2018);
– provision of logistical and technological support for selecting and installing the panels and training the local people.