As part of the initial Royal Society –DfID capacity building initiative ACERA network activities, a capacity assessment of four sub-Saharan African universities was carried out in a series of workshops attended by the consortium partners. The capacity assessment was based on the methodology developed by Bates et al. (2011) and identified common functional capacity deficits in their renewable energy PhD programmes (Colenbrander et al. 2015): (1) highly centralised institutional arrangements, (2) lack of accountability for supervisors, (3) tendency to produce low-impact research, and (4) poor physical infrastructure, particularly internet access. However, this cross-institutional comparison also highlighted low- or no-cost capacity-building strategies that are being piloted within the four universities, including joint supervision policies, weekly seminar programmes, the establishment of specialist centres to engage stakeholders and the introduction of internal monitoring processes. The training programme that was proposed will build on the strengths identified in the workshops and aim to rectify the deficits.

In addition to training at the registered organisation, students and staff will come together for three months of the year for training at the consortium partners. In Africa, CREEC will take the lead as it has the greatest experience of delivering the relevant training programmes and other courses will also be delivered at UMNG and UDSM-DTI. The training offered by the partners will offer different dimensions on the overall capacity building needs. For example, training delivered by CREEC will be more vocational for staff and focus on acquiring specific technical and administrative skills suitable for implementation of renewable energy research in the African context. At Leeds the focus will be on the students, who will be integrated into training programmes run by the Centres for Doctoral Training in Bioenergy and Low Carbon Technologies. This will give the students a wider vision of the renewable energy sector and enable them to build international networks.

The proposed research programme will include training of a vocational nature given by the Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC). These short courses (one to four days) will cover both technical and entrepreneurial aspects and they will draw on existing vocational training offered by CREEC, and will be expanded to include expertise from the consortium partners to create a sustainable set of courses that can be offered to non-consortium members at African institutions, NGOs, government and the private sector both within CREEC and at the consortium partners using the material developed.

CREEC has implemented a number of rural electrification projects for a variety of clients. Technology alone is not enough to increase access to electricity as there are a number of obstacles, ranging from local customs and behaviour, financial and legal issues, and lack of data on low technical capacities are responsible for low adoption rates. The module “Hindrances to adoption of renewable energy technologies” is based on one of CREEC’s studies for GIZ to unearth the limiting factors for widespread acceptance.

Apart from technical capacity building, experience within a World Bank project that CREEC implemented in 2011 and 2012 and several other subsequent projects, showed that knowledge transfer on technical level is relatively simple. The technologies are similar to what is already practiced and so are readily taken-up by participants in training. The adoption of business aspects however proved more difficult because it requires more transformation, especially of ways of thinking and mindset. The programme therefore also comprises a set of training modules in the entrepreneurial field. The first of the trainings will be held in the CEDAT auditorium starting 28th -30th June 2017

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