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Ending 'Energy Poverty' One Goal of African Energy Fellows At UC Davis

Jeff Peters / UC Davis

West Village at UC Davis is the largest planned zero-net energy project in the United States and will be one of the facilities that 25 African fellows will see during their visit.

Jeff Peters / UC Davis

Twenty-five young African leaders are taking part in an energy-themed institute at UC Davis starting Monday. 

The group will spend six weeks at the school through the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

The fellows range in age from 25 to 35 and come from Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and 16 other African nations. 

UC Davis Professor Kate Scow calls the group "super impressive" and says they'll learn how to better tackle energy challenges back home. 

"The ultimate goal is for the fellows to combine their own personal expertise and experiences with the new knowledge that they're going to get by being here - of U.S. approaches - and to identify creative ideas for solving challenges that they face in their own communities," says Scow. 

Scow, with the UC Davis Department of Land Air and Water Resources, says the fellows are already "movers and shakers" who are creating change in their home countries, such as setting up solar kiosks for off-grid villages and providing solar-powered cold storage to small farmers.

In addition to their academic work, Scow says the fellows will have hands-on activities, including performing campus energy audits and planting trees.

062016 Fatima -Ademoh -Nigeria

Fatima Ademoh of Nigeria (above) and the other fellows are from sub-Saharan Africa, where, according to U.S. Agency for International Development, two out of three people lack access to electricity. UC Davis / Courtesy

Scow is also director of the Russell Ranch Agriculture Sustainability Institute at UC Davis, and has worked on projects in sub-Saharan Africa. She says the institute will draw on guest lecturers as well as the expertise of faculty from a broad range of disciplines and nearly 20 UC Davis institutes and research centers.

One of the fellows at UC Davis, Fatima Oyiza Ademoh of Nigeria, leads the Ajima Youth Empowerment Foundation.
Ademoh says that growing up in Nigeria, she saw a lack of access to energy deny people clean water, quality education and health care.
"This bitter scenario of energy poverty I witnessed has engraved the interest in tackling energy poverty in my heart," Ademoh says.
The U.S. Agency for International Development says two out of three people lack access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
062016 Bio -Nigeria A biodigester project under construction at Rije Village in Nigeria. When completed, the digester would bring electricity to an off-grid community. Kabir Onimisi Ademoh / Youth Agro Entrepreneurs
Ademoh hopes the institute will help her replicate a project, now under construction at Rije Village, that will use bio-digesters to provide electricity to off-grid homes and businesses.
She and other fellows will see how an anaerobic digester works during their stay. The digester at UC Davis converts campus and community food and yard waste into clean energy.

One of the projects the Ajima Youth Empowerment Foundation promotes is Youth Agro Entrepreneurs. The youth training center and social enterprise incubator "teaches young individuals agricultural practices and business skills to help them set-up their own business or gain useful employment in agriculture," according to the Foundation. 

The YAE offers low-to-free tuition for an 18-month intense agriculture training and education program that targets low income families. It is open to individuals between the ages of 18-39.