How Much Do You Know About IEEE Smart Village Empowering Off-Grid Communities?
According to the Energy Access Outlook 2017, an estimated 1.4 billion people live without electricity.
What is the Current State of Electrification?
The truth of the matter is many communities in the world are living without power. Despite the efforts being made globally by governments, non-governmental organizations and agencies of change to address this, the situation is still wanting. According to the Energy Access Outlook 2017, an estimated 1.4 billion people live without electricity. This represents 14% of the total world population and an estimated 84% of the people without access to electricity live in rural areas. More than 95% of these reside in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of developing Asia. Yet, access to energy is one of the key enablers of many aspects of community development.
How Can We Solve This?
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 7 aims to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. Most importantly, this cannot happen without dedicated and sustained efforts towards this cause. IEEE Smart Village envisions a world where all people enjoy access to electricity and education to grow opportunities for themselves and their communities. In essence, Smart Village volunteers work hand in hand with local entrepreneurs to bring about the change needed in the communities. Consequently, they empower off-grid communities through the integration of sustainable electricity, education and entrepreneurial solutions.
Why Make a Village Smart?
Businesses and enterprises in the developing world face many challenges that can lead to their closure. These challenges range from lack of financial support or expertise required to run their businesses efficiently. Such occurrences discourage and demotivate many entrepreneurs who give up along the way. More especially, with the rising rates of unemployment in many countries, youths are forced to migrate into the urban areas in search of occupation. Consequently, failure to secure jobs lead to youths resorting to unscrupulous means of earning a living. In the long run, these lead to the high rates of crimes in urban areas. The lives of individuals are for this reason put at risk.
Driven by sheer motivation to secure a future for our rural communities, Smart Village holds the hand of the carefully selected entreprise and walks the journey with them, every step of the way. With every help they can get, they work closely with the networks to share their experiences and expertise to assist in driving the businesses to become sustainable. Since most of the communities of focus still have cultural practices deeply rooted, the entrepreneurs strive to introduce and integrate new technologies, while at the same time, aiming to preserve the local heritage. Smart Village entrepreneurs work in high risk areas and face challenges such as climate extremes, political instabilities and local rivalries among many others.
The Family that Smart Village Is.
The striking beauty about IEEE Smart Village family is the ability to freely share learning experiences with the rest of the team. There is nothing more precious than sharing your challenges and receiving tons of advice and support and ultimately overcoming them. Often, this is done through the social media platforms where the teams are connected. At every PowerAfrica Conference , Smart Village entrepreneurs convene to share their experiences, both difficulties and successes, and forge ways of going forward to be better at what they do. Besides improving their business plans, the entrepreneurs and volunteers also work to ease their emotional burdens as they go through a lot in their service to humanity.
At the recently concluded PowerAfrica 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria, it was realized that many entrepreneurs faced burnout often times. The Smart Village family discussed ways of helping ease this. One of the ways suggested was to have a mentorship for the entrepreneurs to ensure that no one was suffering by themselves silently. Mental health is equally important for the success of an enterprise and this family is there to help their counterparts going through it. What was evident from the meetings is that Smart Village aims to walk through the entrepreneurial journey with its members and watch their enterprises blossom to the best they can be, right from the start to the very end.
Technical Visit to the Microgrid
As expected, with the focus of Smart Village in off-grid communities, a trip to the Havenhill Synergy Microgrid site was organized for the PowerAfrica Conference participants. This was to ensure that the participants had a real feel of what to expect in the areas where they serve or hope to serve in. The beauty of Smart Village is the diversity within the different communities they are involved in. Equally important, are the variations in the business models that the volunteers and entrepreneurs chose to adopt to work for their communities. Every community has its unique strengths and challenges and through the three Smart Village pillars energy, education and entrepreneurship, the community develops sustainably.
The Smart Village Committees
The committees involved in the great work being conducted by Smart Village are fund development, engagement, operations, education, marketing, technology and finance. To become a part of this great initiative and join us in our mission to empower 50 million people by 2025, follow this link: https://smartvillage.ieee.org/join-us/.