Powering Education, a Brighter Future for Younger Africans.

Mauro Ometto

Mauro Ometto

On Monday, March 16 the JCU community welcomed Mauro Ometto, Business Developer at Enel Green Power, and creator and leader of the Powering Education research project, which studies the impact that access to energy has on education, focusing on Eastern Africa.

Globally 1.3 billion people have no access to power, 620 million of which are located in Sub Saharan Africa. In Guinea for example, only about a fifth of the population has access to electricity. With few families able to afford generators, children crowd at the international airport, petrol stations and traffic roundabouts to study for their exams, sometimes even spending the night there. As the region is rapidly growing and the gap between social classes increases, Powering Education is determined to provide the younger generations with energy power and thus, access to a better and brighter future.

During their experiment, the team of Powering Education distributed approximately 300 solar lamps to 300 students in 12 schools located in rural and off-grid communities in Kenya. Mauro explained that the result was not only a positive and significant average grade difference across classes but also extra savings from fuel expenditure which converts into higher sanitation. Families would save 15% on power by using solar lamps instead of kerosene lamps. This money was then circulated back into the education system, having a large impact on the communities.

While in Eastern Africa the technology and infrastructure do exist for providing solar energy to people, financing was the largest obstacle until M-Pesa, a cellular phone-based payment system, was implemented. M-Pesa transactions (which now constitute 31% of Kenya’s GDP) allow users to pay for the solar lamps with the savings accrued from not using kerosene lamps.

The project, started on a shoe string, was awarded the first price and an acceleration grant by The Coca-Cola Company during the Annual Meeting in Davos in 2014. With the new grant of $50,000, together with the team’s dedication and passion towards their mission, we are certain that in the near future we will see some concrete changes in the lifestyle of the African population.

Learn more about the John Cabot Institute for Entrepreneurship