Centre of Renewable Energy
The city of Peshawar is located around 50 km from the Pakistani-Afghan border, in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The mountainous region has suffered from instability and violent incidents in the past decade. The population’s eagerness to recover and develop economically is being additionally slowed down by energy shortage, which is a frequent problem along the Afghan-Pakistani border. This exacerbates the situation of – among others – many young people struggling to earn a living. Facing the lack of opportunity, they can become an easy target for extremists, who exploit their vulnerability for their own goals.
The energy shortfalls can be addressed in contemporary and innovative ways. Among the population, the demand to find alternative sources for energy is high. However, few service providers have the necessary expertise to implement and deliver energy solutions such as solar power. PATRIP’s partner Wish International identified this market gap and examined the situation of vocational centres in Peshawar who offered training courses in the energy sector. After assessing curricula from various vocational institutions, they realised that in none of them could people learn how to operate with renewable energy sources.
Financed by: German Federal Foreign Office (FFO) through KfW and PATRIP Foundation
Implemented by: Wish International
Duration: December 2015 – April 2017
Budget: 750,000.00 EUR
Beneficiaries: initial phase supported by Wish International: 500 trainees (60% Pakistani, 40% Afghan); after facility hand-over to TEVTA: continuous enrolment
Key Outputs: Construction of training facility/workshop, including classrooms, labs, and workshops. Arranging of training on solar systems and UPS for staff and trainees, including development of a curriculum. Equipping of the centre and overseeing of the first three batches of trainees.
The project aimed at unlocking the untapped potential of the renewable energy sector in Peshawar and the wider province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in order to generate several positive effects for the population. By increasing the knowledge and expertise in the context of solar power and UPS among the local population, these energy sources were hoped to be promoted as tangible solutions for the area’s struggles with steady energy supply. Concretely, this was to be achieved through training more qualified personnel in this sector, which in turn was planned to have a beneficial effect on the overall unemployment rate, especially among the younger population.
Wish International’s ambition was to develop the province’s first alternative energy training programme, which would provide a modern curriculum to equip younger people with valuable technical skills. Equipped with in-demand expertise, the programme’s graduates could then apply their knowledge to start offering services in this sector by either finding employment with existing firms or starting their own small business in repairing, installing, and maintaining solar power plants, as well as install uninterrupted power supply (UPS). The programme was envisaged as a long-term source of expertise for the region in this respect, with a hands-on vocational education designed to be closely intertwined with businesses working in the energy supply sector.
The overarching purpose of these measures was to tackle factors of instability in the province, by reducing people’s vulnerability towards energy shortages, as well as provide opportunities for young unemployed people to earn a living, support their families, and thus make them more resilient towards threats such as radicalisation.
To guarantee the sustainability of the newly established facility, Wish International established a partnership with the Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA). TEVTA was established by the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to provide technical education and vocational skills to trainees in institutions under its control. These institutions regulated by TEVTA have nationally and internationally acceptable syllabi. Prior to the implementation of Wish International’s project, it was therefore clarified that TEVTA would take over the operation of the facility after the initial launching phase.
The construction works were outsourced to a local Pakistani company. For the development of the curriculum, Wish International engaged the Islamabad-based company ATS Engineers, which among other things specialises in Solar Energy Solutions. The 6-month curriculum was set up with a strong emphasis on practical learning, which comprised 80% next to theory, making up 20% of the overall programme.
One of the crucial elements of the contemporary programme however was planned to be the programme’s close link to the private sector, which should increase the effectiveness of the programme’s ambition to help graduates find employment or other sources of income generation in the sector. The link between business and education was forged by organising meetings with multiple firms working in the solar energy sector in and around Peshawar, since the programme designed for the new school included an internship or placement. These companies were actively brought on board through events such as the “Launching Ceremony for Workplace Based Training”, which was organised by Wish International together with TEVTA, and during which information about the nature of the programme as well as the benefits of hiring trainees for job placements and internships were highlighted.
For the pilot group, 130 trainees were enrolled in the programme. Among them, 30 were Afghan, while the rest consisted of Pakistani trainees. This first group was very closely monitored during the learning process. Wish International conducted regular interviews with trainees in order to assess whether the learning speed was appropriate and to frequently check their progress. Moreover, the trainees received emergency and first aid courses.
During the initial phase, the establishment of the Centre for Renewable Energy (CORE) has made it possible for 550 Afghan and Pakistani trainees to gain valuable skills and hands-on experience that helps them get employed or else start their own small business as service providers. After being handed over to TEVTA, the centre continues with on-going enrolment. The Centre is now considered one of the best-equipped vocational institutions in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and already three batches of trainees have graduated since 2017.
Data available for the first two batches of graduates indicates an overwhelming success rate regarding income-generation upon graduation. In a “Tracer Study” by Wish International identified that for the first two batches of graduates, which total at 218, the employment rate averaged at 83%. With an overwhelming community response, the project has quickly become self-sustainable, as interest in applying for the course remains high. Companies’ strong interest in recruiting trainees from this programme became evident when they started offering employment to individuals even before graduation.
Even at this early stage of evaluating the project’s impact, it is fair to state that it has significantly increased the availability of qualified personnel in the field of renewable energy, thus addressing the population’s unanswered demand for services in this sector.
Making use of the NGO network comprised of organisation who have grown together over the years through regular workshops organised by the PATRIP Foundation, Wish International invited the Baluchistan Rural Support Program (BRSP) as well as the Organization for Relief Development (ORD) to share information about the new vocational institution and to recommend applicants for the admission process. Collaborating with the Afghan organisation ORD to recruit Afghan trainees for the vocational programme in Peshawar serves as a good example for PATRIP’s facilitation of cross-border partnerships. Exchange does not only happen on the level of professional collaboration among NGOs, but also on the level of beneficiaries, who go side-by-side through an entire 6-month programme.
The PATRIP Foundation believes that fostering the cross-border element of projects implies better cooperation on both a state- as well as a personal level, creating a better and safer environment for trade, travel, and access to public services.
The PATRIP Foundation supports the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In 2015, all member states of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda, whose main purpose was the introduction of 17 goals for sustainable development (SDGs). The goals aim at the joint creation of a world in which people are able to live together peacefully, as well as in ecologically compatible, socially just, and economically effective ways.
The described project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals: