Isah Ali, Kaumi Shettima, Goni Bulama, Abdulahi Hassan, Abdulraham Mohammed, Samson Emanuel, Abubarkar Ahmadu, despite having the desire to work, never made income enough to feed and care for themselves, as well as their dependent families, and had to engage in several menial jobs just to make ends meet.
These young men come from conflict affected communities in Borno State, the epicenter of the Boko Haram Insurgency in Nigeria. In many of the local communities, there exist avalanche of able bodied youths, ready to work but lack the opportunities. While some of these young men have basic electrical knowledge, they were rarely engaged and have never been committed to work for more than one day at at time. In the past, they are not able to apply their skills to generate up to N2000 daily, and consecutively for one week. Without other menial jobs, they are unable to feed themselves, and their families.
The answer for Isah, Kaumi, Goni, Abdulahi, Abdulraham, Samson, and Abubarkar, to get patronage was not to learn higher skills in grid electrical repairs, but to branch out into a related skill ¬ Solar. In 2018, ICEED, with support from the European Union, began implementing the Support for Response, Recovery and Resilience (Maida), program in Borno State. ICEED trained local adolescent youths on solar installation, maintenance and marketing. The young men joined, hoping that the new skill will would help boost their different family incomes and secure better living conditions. After attending the training programme, the young men started applying the new skills; some started fixing neighborhood solar street lights, until a big opportunity came calling their way.
A contract for an installation of solar PV system in 650 households in Bama and Gwoza was awarded. The contractor was referred to the trainees as capable hands, and he selected the 7 young men to do the work with him. The contractor agreed with the new solar technicians to pay the sum of N200,000 monthly to each of the seven young men, until the 650 households are completed. This was the first time that any of them have earned as much income within a month. In addition to the improved income, the workers got more hands-on experience in solar installation and are currently looking for more projects from the State government.
To the beneficiaries, the experience is awesome. According to one of them, Kaumi, “ the solar skill is an excellent add-on to our electrical skill. Now we have a skill that is in continuous need, especially as the rebuilding of shelters in the conflict affected communities are expanding. This contributes significantly to improving the living conditions of my family. My wife and I just had our first child and I can tell you that it has been easy for me to provide all that is needed, as a father.”
The seven young people who have benefited from the solar training of the EU funded project to support response, recovery and resilience in Borno State. In addition to its support in market aligned vocational training for youths on solar energy solutions, the project will deliver solar energy solutions for households and institutions in some conflict affected communities. From February 2018 till date, the project has trained 140 young men and women is solar PV businesses in 7 local governments of Borno State- Jere, Mafa, Hawul, Kwaya Kusar, Biu, Bama/Gwoza.
Acquiring solar PV skill has substantially increased the economic efficacy compared to when they were left with only grid electrical know-how. It is hoped that the government will begin to utilize these talents in maintaining the numerous solar street lights in the State, as well as other solar projects that may begin in the State.