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SOLAR POWER PROJECT

In November 2014, the library in Makumbaya Lower Basic School gained its own sustainable power supply.

Carl ‘Watty’ Brown tells us about the team behind the project and the reasons for wanting to do it.

I am a third year Business, Sustainability and Ethics student. I visited Makumbaya while in The Gambia on a field trip with Mark Chidler in January this year. While there, I had a short chat with Mr Sanyang in his office where I noticed two old computers lying on the floor gathering dust. He told me they had been donated by an English school but of course there was nowhere to plug them in.

After declining the offer to give a donation, as personally I would much rather offer something more sustainable, I asked Mr Sanyang what would benefit his school and provide better learning opportunities to his students, to which Mr Sanyang pointed to the dusty old computers and expressed his wish to be able to plug them in.

Steve and I discussed this at length shortly afterwards, and came up with a plan for delivering what was promised. At that time, Steve was a Senior Lecturer in Business at Newman (Steve now works for Birmingham City University) and was in the process of writing a ‘Managing a Sustainable Enterprise’ module, to be delivered that following semester in February. As a result, Steve managed to align the method of assessment to meet the requirements of this projects delivery. Following Steve leaving Newman, he has remained in close contact to offer guidance and support with this project.

“Mr Sanyang pointed to the dusty old computers and expressed his wish to be able to plug them in.”

Gary is a member of the Estates Team at Newman. As a qualified electrician he is responsible for all electrics on the Newman site. The project managed to gain enough momentum for Paul Dean, the Director of Estates, to get involved. He agreed to cover the costs for two members of Estates Staff to fly to The Gambia to assist with the installation – Gary and Brian. Gary in particular was a driving force throughout the project, working out of hours to assist with trials and procurement of the materials – a great asset to the team.

Out of everyone involved in the project, Gary and Steve were two people who went the extra mile to ensure it was a success. Mohammed, a senior lecturer in IT at Newman, also offered his help and attended many briefs. He came up with the idea of installing a Raspberry Pi computer into the library with a learning resources database on (Rachel.org). Unfortunately, we were unable to deliver the Raspberry Pi on this occasion as we ran out of time to develop it. However, we have the equipment and will have it up and running in January ready to be delivered on the next field trip. 

As we were also looking to deliver computing equipment, we managed to get the IT director at Newman to agree to fund a member of staff to come along to the Gambia and assist with its installation. That was Fay, she became the chief photographer as we didn’t end up installing the computer on this occasion.

“The list of people who played a part is endless, the project and its success was very much a team effort.”

And here it is…the inaugural switch on of the new solar powered lights at Makumbaya Lower Basic School.

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