The 12 women technicians were trained at Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan in western India. Sierra Leone is currently suffering from infrastructure decay as a result of a decade of civil war which destroyed vital infrastructure living more than 90 per cent of the population without access to power.
A recent World Bank report noted that “electricity is Sierra Leone’s most daunting infrastructure challenge.” The women operating from the new Barefoot College, Konta Line Village in Sierra Leone are providing electricity to villages in rural Sierra Leone to enhance quality of life.
“Snakes, rodents, reptiles and biting insects crept and crawled into our homes with the dark at 7pm. Children couldn’t study, and we couldn’t relax, socialise or plan our lives after a long day’s work,” said Fatima Koroma, one of the engineers.
The women are housed in a hostel at the Barefoot College to train other Sierra Leoneans in their commitment to transform rural villages in the country.
“ I teach full time at the college.I’m also on call even at night to fix a fuse or change a bulb or charge a phone” says Nancy Kanu, chief solar engineer at the college.
Ordinarily the solar units are beyond the reach of the rural poor as they cost about $500 to $800 and also require electricity to manufacture.
The project is however being supported by the government with an investment of $820,000 but the women are optimistic of running it independently some day.