A man on a mission. Elly’s story

Elly has always had an inner spark for engineering and action: “I remember at a very young age; my father bought a battery. When he was not at home, he would leave us with instructions to disconnect the solar clips from the battery just before the sunset. I found out that if I connected a metallic spoon between the battery terminals, it would spark, not knowing then that I was destroying the batteries”.

Elly’s dad would probably have something to say about his kid’s precocious curiosity being experimented on the goods he had purchased, and to this day we don’t know whether that poor battery was eventually sacrificed ad maiorem gloriam of engineering and discovering. However, this attitude towards experimentation, combined with the total lack of fear of getting his hands dirty, brought Elly to the outstanding achievement of today: being one of the three winners of the Micro-Grid Academy “Young Talent of the Year” Award and, even more importantly, making a tangible, irreplaceable impact over the welfare of his human brothers and sisters.

The file rouge of his path is, once again, Elly’s voracity of knowledge and experience: as he underlines, “Learning never stops. I am constantly reading to improve on my skills, change the status quo and to have knowledge around delivering energy in a clean, safe, affordable and sustainable manner”. With a little fantasy, one might say that, one day or another, Elly’s path and the Micro-Grid Academy were meant to cross: and that’s exactly what happened.

Once again, his hunger for more knowledge provided him with the tenacity of waiting for his chance within the MGA: “Since the year 2018, I had always wanted to join the MGA. Last year, I was able to join the online Renew-ABLEagainst Covid. This platform gave me the opportunity to learn in a multicultural environment with students coming from across the globe”.

However, it was not all fun and games, and serious stuff was about to happen…or more precisely, to be made happen. During the MGA-branded Renew-ABLE Against Covid training, together with his team members, all MGA students, Elly committed to provide sustainable energy solutions through the creation of a local start-up “Raynow Energy”, with the aim of putting into action the lessons learnt from the MGA and to bring energy to local health centers, schools and small businesses. As one of their first steps, Elly and his colleagues envisioned and designed a solar electrification solution for Juja Farm Health Centre Plan, a non-profit health centre located in Kiambu, Kenya. As he states, “This location was provided by AVSI as one of the most critical health Centre’s in Kenya to be electrified, serving a total of 60 people a day”.

Unfortunately, despite being the worst possible situation, blackouts occur quite often in the health centres of rural Kenya. The fact that they can be solved with diesel generators is cold comfort as, in the future, climate change will increasingly impact and finally intersect with human health. Plus, the timing is just perfect: the common enemy of Covid-19 has shown to all of us how vulnerable and precarious our system is, and how much we need smart, sustainable and efficient health solutions.  Regardless the complexity of the issue, Elly jumped right into the whale’s mouth, putting thought and effort into something simple, yet intricate and crucial at the same time, and too often overlooked by major energy actors: the energetic sustainability of health services.

We couldn’t think of any more necessary (and noble) use, for electricity, than the one of saving human lives. And that’s why Elly was among our three winners of choice.

The cherry on top of this inspiring story is that Elly didn’t just want to do something good: he involved other students from the MGA in the installation of the system, offering them the possibility of taking part in a real case study, while being actors of an initiative with a huge social impact.

This is the ultimate spirit of the Micro-Grid Academy and RES4Africa: only together, we can make the change happen.