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Victron power improves student learning time

It’s always good to start a new year with a positive story.

In developing nations education is often key to improving the society. Recently Alp Tilev, Managing Director of Great Lakes Energy in Rwanda, got in touch with me about an educational project for which they were fortunate enough to win the bid – to install a 4kWp off-grid system for the Kepler university’s program in Kiziba Refugee Camp in Rwanda.

The project was funded in part by a grant from the Humanitarian Education Accelerator, a project of DFID, UNICEF, and UNHCR to promote successful scaling of promising education initiatives for refugees.

Based on the above that sounds a particularly worthwhile project I’d say to kick us off into 2018 – and one that Alp and his business have clearly enjoyed doing.

Kiziba Refugee Camp in Rwanda.

Generator downtime

Kepler is a nonprofit university program based in Africa, designed for the developing world. Up to the point Great Lakes Energy got involved with them much of the off-grid power required for the university program (located in the Kiziba Refugee Camp shown above) was provided by an unreliable generator.

The students therefore received somewhat time limited online learning, whilst working toward their U.S. accredited degrees. With Kepler’s goal to create a global network of universities, beginning in Rwanda, to deliver the skills that emerging economies need, at a price that all talented students can afford – well it almost becomes a futile exercise without reliable power.

The suspect generator replete with dodgy wiring…

Quantifying the loss of learning time

The students have access to the campus for 89.5 hours a week, but due to the old generator and solar system which powered the internet server – this resulted in only 44 hours of available learning time. That figure included the duration the student’s laptops could run on their batteries after the generator was turned off. A study document here explains the reasoning behind the loss of learning time.

The bottom line was 45.5 hours of learning time was lost where students could have had both electricity
and internet access to conduct their academic activities. Additionally the generator was costing 500 USD a month in fuel. Clearly something had to be done, hence this project came to fruition.

Victron power

Improved learning times with Victron Energy…

The system installed by Great Lakes Energy comprised:

Solar studying…


Power to the people never felt so good – as this historic VRM screenshot below shows.

Power to the people…

My thanks to Alp Tilev of Great Lakes Energy for the information and images used in this blog. Other notable names from Alp’s team that ensured this project came to fruition are:

Honore Basazababo (Lead Engineer), Jean Aime Niyonsenga (Head of installation), Sam Dargan (CEO) and the GLE tech team.

I understand all involved with the Kepler Kiziba campus are very pleased with the result. May such improved learning opportunities continue into 2018 and beyond.

John Rushworth


Great Lakes Energy –

Kepler –

Kepler on Facebook –

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