SAGEN wins prestigious award

By Marlene de Witt

20/03/2014

The South African–German Energy Programme (SAGEN) team are the proud winners of a prestigious Africa Energy Award for their efforts to address the lack of technical skills in the South African renewable energy and energy-efficiency sectors. Marlett Balmer, Senior Energy Advisor for SAGEN, accepted the trophy and certificate on behalf of the team at the awards ceremony held in Johannesburg on 11 March. The SAGEN programme is implemented in South Africa by GIZ on behalf of the German Government.

The African Energy Awards, now in its eighth year, is an annual event that is part of the Africa Energy Conference. The awards recognise excellence in the energy industry across the African continent. SAGEN won in the category ‘Best skills and localisation initiative’ – one of eight categories in the competition. The winner of this category had to have made a substantial contribution to training and must have gone the extra mile to advance knowledge in the energy sector through their training programmes.

 “Capacity building and training are not the core objectives of the SAGEN programme, but we realised early on that a lack of technical skills in the renewable energy and energy-efficiency sectors in this country is seriously affecting Government’s potential to get renewable energy projects off the ground. We therefore decided to make this issue a priority for us too,” says Sören David, SAGEN Programme Manager. Between 2012 and 2013, SAGEN supported 17 training events through which it has enhanced the knowledge and skills of 260 public sector employees – 83 of them women. “This included a three-month training course for wind-energy technicians in Germany, a training course for wind-energy lecturers, as well as a course on the technical aspects of solar, wind and bio-energy for participants from national government, municipalities and civil society organisations,” Sören says.

SAGEN also recently decided to test the long-term impact of the training events by following up with participants that have completed training at least six months ago. “The results were extremely satisfying for us: 98% of the participants indicated that their knowledge of their subject matter has improved, 64% said they use the knowledge they gained through the training on a daily basis, and 56% reported an improvement in their work performance owing to the training they received.”

SAGEN will continue to support training and capacity-building initiatives for their partners and key stakeholders. So far, SAGEN hosted a study tour to Germany on the topic of cogeneration for key South African decision-makers. The second group of South African wind-energy technicians are also currently undergoing training in Germany – among them the second black female wind-energy technician in the world.