Burkina-Faso Posts

A new solar bakery in Burkina Faso

Posted vendredi 27 novembre 2020 by Lorin Symington.

We’re very happy to announce the success of our collaboration with the NGO Remar in Burkina Faso. We have officially opened of a brand new, Lytefire powered bakery in Burkina Faso after some weeks of training with the ladies of Remar.

At the request of Remar, an NGO operating in 70+ countries, we worked with their local welding staff to build a Lytefire5 with baking oven, a bakery building, and conducted entrepreneurship and bakery skills training. Remar is taking care of 150 vulnerable peoples on the edge of Burkina Faso’s capital city of Ouagadougou and they are looking for every advantage possible. For one thing, buying bread from the outside costs a considerable amount of precious cash. Thanks to funding from Remar Espana & Remar Schweiz we were able to train Remar welders to build the Lytefire 5, build a new building to house the bakery, buy the equipment and train the ladies of Remar for success in their baking initiative.

This project had the added spice of starting before the WHO declared a global pandemic. In fact, just after finishing the training of the fabricators and the production of the first Lytefire5, project manager Lorin Symington was in the Philippines to follow up on our projects there and meet with the University of Eastern Visayas and the Philippines Coconut Authority to explore the possible avenues for solar thermal to contribute to adding value in the coconut value chain. Lorin left the Philippines just as PH instituted a very early and very strict lockdown. By the time he got the Burkina the world was in a panic and isolation was advised.

Flash forward a few months and Remar/GoSol projects are planned for Haiti, Niger and Mali. During the first months of lockdown Remar and GoSol managed to secure additional funding to ensure exceptional results of the project in Burkina including enough to warrant building a brick and mortar bakery, buy a mixing machine and build a team of local professionals capable of ensuring appropriate training for the women of Remar and ongoing support.

The bakery was officially launched in October and we are happy to report that they are producing +100kg of bread per week as well as 5kg of ‘Madeleine’ personal sized cakes for sale in the city. They’re saving a bundle and making an income on top. The women report being more confident after receiving training because they now have the vocabulary and skills to run a business and earn money to contribute back to Remar, which, as an organization, has done so much for so many of them.

For us, it was truly inspiring to see these ladies, many of whom have not been in school for many years, pick up their pen and paper and calculate profit and loss scenarios while their babies hang on their hips. At first, it was hard to tell which baby belonged to who, because all the babies were being passed around so much. At first, the toddlers were not in class, but once the classroom segment was done and it was time to bake, there were kids constantly underfoot. We had a class full of 15 women, some as young as 15, others 50 years of age, and they cooperated to ensure that everyone, regardless of health condition, literacy level or number of children, had the chance to participate in the training and learn the needed skills to run a small business.

With our aspiring GoSol team in place in Burkina Faso, we are continuing to provide support to this fledgeling business, the success of which gives hope for widespread adoption of direct solar thermal energy systems and an end to deforestation in the Sahel.


Building in Burkina Faso with Remar

Posted Thursday 27 February 2020 by Lorin Symington.

We launched a new project with Remar International in Burkina Faso to empower women entrepreneurs. As always we fabricated the solar units locally, in cooperation with local metalworkers. Our chief builder Lorin was in Burkina for 2 months to facilitate the first phase of this project.

I first visited West Africa in 2007 when I spent 6 months in Mali. During my research at the time, Burkina Faso jumped out at me as a place that was in desperate need of Lytefire technology. And now, finally I get to bring our solar concentrators to Burkina Faso!

Lorin and the Remar apprentices measuring and marking.

The country of people of integrity
That’s what Burkina Faso the means and it was named like that by President Thomas Sankara, in 1984, in his courageous attempt to free the country from French colonialism. It is a landlocked country of 20 million people, devoid of any petroleum wealth and with few other resources. Burkina Faso is ranked 182nd out of 189 on the Human Development Index, which is to say that it is one of the least developed countries on the planet. There’s a 9 months long dry season and an incredible amount of dust. It is “winter” now, but the temperature hits nearly 40°C every day and during my first month I didn’t see a cloud. If ever there was a country that could profit from direct access to solar energy, it’s this one.

People in the capital city Ouagadougou (pronounced wah-gah-doo-goo) are friendly and often dressed in brightly coloured traditional fabrics. There are bananas and avocados for sale on the side of the road, and strangely enough, many apples, strawberries and grapes, the origins of which are still a mystery to me. The country is an ex French colony, and one of the many ways that the colonial legacy lives on is in the daily consumption of bread.

GoSol has been contracted to build a Lytefire 5 baking oven for Remar International, a Spanish NGO that has been working in Burkina Faso for over 20 years. They’re planning a bakery training centre at their compound in the Nioko 2 neighbourhood and their intention is to empower a group of women to earn a more consistent living.

Bako, head welder at the Remar garage, learning to calibrate mirrors.

Remar, our new partner
Working with the Remar workshop crew is fun and challenging. On the one hand, Bako, their main welder who they have supported since he was a boy, is well experienced and a real stand up guy. It’s great to see the structure Remar has put in place to provide a safe learning and growth experience for these youngsters. His spirit is one of Hakuna Matata, to borrow a phrase from our Swahili sisters and brothers. He’s always smiling and eager to learn. On the other hand, he has a handful of apprentices who are… a handful. One is nicknamed the ‘minister of losing stuff’, another is the minister of breaking stuff, another is the minister of confusion… you get the idea! No build is complete without a few tools burning out and some unexpected delays, but with a little luck and perseverance we’re making it work and in the end everything went just fine.

The team, proud to see it all starting to come together.

I’ve never had a more challenging time finding the materials to build Lytefire than in Burkina. For the first three days we heard ‘impossible’ many times when it came to finding sheets of stainless steel. I now know two shops that sell them. Likewise for fiberglass or mineral wool insulation, though eventually we managed to find the one place that sells it. I estimate that it took me 12+ hours of hunting to find fiberglass mat (which we use to protect and hold in place the window on the oven). 2 or 3 mm mirrors were simply impossible to find and we were eventually forced to get those mirrors from neighbouring Ghana where, it turns out, they are cheaper than just about anywhere else I have ever bought them. I bought enough for 5 Lytefires because I have a good feeling about the future of Lytefire in Burkina Faso.

On the hunt in the Ouaga Steel Market.

The Lytefire is now installed at Remar’s training center for women so stay tuned for the next updates from this project. On a side note, Lorin met some very interesting entrepreneurs while he was in Burkina Faso and we are starting a small crowdfunder for them to equipt and train them with Lytefire. Please have a look here: https://lytefire.com/adama-and-issaka?var_mode=recalcul


 

 

 

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