The Ladies of Goghin, solar bakers in Burkina Faso

We’re very happy to announce the ladies of Goghin have gone solar!

Thanks to your generous contributions on the crowdfunding, the hard work of Vincent Nikiema and his association SOS Énergie Burkina and the contribution of L’Association pour un Monde Solidaire (ASW) we were able to deliver a great training package to members of this rural women’s group.

Over the course of about 3 weeks, our team in Burkina Faso delivered and installed a Lytefire6 along with all the equipment needed for a small bakery, and we conducted two training modules, one focusing on small scale entrepreneurship skills, and the other on practical baking skills.

For the entrepreneurship training, we had said that we could handle a class size of about 15. Nearly 30 women showed up! Only a handful of them could read and write, but all of them wanted to learn more about how to handle money and improve their business skills. Of course, we could not turn them away. Fortunately, our entrepreneurship educator, Somé Alexis has extensive experience training women of all education levels, and he brought an additional helper who is fluent in Mooré, the language of the Mossi people.

While the ladies were learning how to do book keeping, budgeting and other entrepreneurship skills, we worked with some men from the village to ensure they had the know-how to install and calibrate the mirrors on the Lytefire. A number of young men came and went, but in our experience young men move around too much so even if they are trained up, they might not be around when they are needed. We worked with Mr. Sédou and André Nikiema (Vincent’s brother) to install and calibrate the mirrors of the Lytefire. This was also a great chance to see our country manager Martin Poubidjie in action, teaching others how to calibrate.

For the practical bakery portion of the training package, Mr. Jean Bosco made his appearance again and he and his son Allain spent a week with the ladies teaching them the fundamentals of baking, from good ingredient storage habits, to hygiene, proper measuring technique, how to vary the amount of yeast depending on temperature (when it’s 42degC in the afternoon, you don’t need as much yeast as in the morning!) and, very importantly, good kneading technique.

Their village is about 15 minutes off the road from Ouagadougou to Bobo Diolasso about 45 minutes from the city. There is an industrial bakery in the nearby town of Tanghin Dassouri that makes only (in my opinion) cardboard tasting baguettes, but there are so many other delicious varieties of bread and treats to make and the ladies have been very excited to learn some tastier recipes.

Based on our experiences with Remar, we have increased the surface area of the Lytefire from 5 square meters to 6 because the quality of sunlight in Burkina Faso is relatively low due to all the atmospheric dust blown off the Sahara. While you might not see a rain cloud for 9 months of the year, the skies always have a slight-to-severe white haze. For those of you who know your Direct Normal Irradiation levels, Ouagadougou and the surrounds receive about 1500w/m2 annually. For such a sunny country that isn’t very high and it’s due to the intense dustiness. Increasing the power of the Lytefire by 20% compensates for this.

As part of our package we also included a gas powered baking oven for those months of the year when there is simply too much dust (Harmattan wind season) and for the rainy season (July-August). The cost of LPG gas is very high for village life and so we’re very much looking forward to the accounting data the ladies have agreed to share with us. Martin will be in regular contact with them and if they need any refreshers or troubleshooting he will be there for them.

Here, Lorin poses with some very happy new bakers:

Congratulations to the women of Goghin Women’s group and to SOS Burkina Énergie for sustainably going solar with Lytefire!

 

 

 

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