Young Scientists

Daniel Egbe: "ANSOLE scientific network promotes solar energy in Africa"

Who are you?

I am Daniel Ayuk Mbi Egbe. I am a professor of organic chemistry, born in Cameroon. I am the founder of the African Network for Solar Energy. I have been living in Germany for 26 years. I started to study in Cameroon, at the University of Yaoundé 1, where I get a degree in physics and chemistry in 1991. In 1992, I went to Germany. First I got a German Diploma, the equivalent of the master's degree, then a PhD, and finally the accreditation in organic chemistry.

What is the African Network for Solar Energy?

The main aims of the African Network for Solar Energy are training, research and promotion of renewable energy in Africa. The idea came about because I had noticed during a conference on renewable energies in Sousse, Tunisia, in November 2010, that there was an Ethiopian scientist, who was unknown to the Tunisian organizers, due to the fact that he is English-speaking, and the Tunisians are French-speaking. So we thought that we had to remove this barrier by creating a network that links Africa regardless of language. So we created the network together, with the aim of encouraging inter-African cooperation.

What is this network useful for?

We have three main goals. First of all, training technicians. If Africa is to solve its energy problem, we must use solar energy, which is abundant. But for that, you need qualified people on the ground. Secondly, to promote experimental research. I want to emphasize this. Because we know that in sub-Saharan African universities, research is mainly theoretical, and with theory we cannot develop a continent. The third goal is to market and promote renewable energies in general, by doing interviews like this one, and appearing on television, on radio and in the press.

How do you do this in practice?

We organize scientific conferences. More than 20 so far, in 13 African countries. We organize also summer schools where we bring people together. And not only do they listen to good presentations, but they also have the opportunity to have practical training. I thank the Volkswagen Foundation, which funds our summer schools. They have already funded three and we will have a fourth school in 2019 in Namibia, in Windhoek. We also give scholarships. We have three types of scholarships. The "Ansol Sur-Place Fellowship", which allows African students to remain in their university beeing supported by the Ansole network, in order to got their master or PhD. The second type is an inter-African scholarship where the student has two supervisors, in his home country and in another African country. The idea behind it is to promote inter-African cooperation. As I said earlier, there is some cooperation between French-speaking and English-speaking countries, but it is not intensive. So we believe that in the field of renewable energies, we must intensify inter-African scientific research. The third is a scholarship that brings the student to Europe, or in the future also to Latin America, especially for experimental training. In your country of origin you do not have the possibility to do high quality experimental research. So you can get the Ansole scholarship to come and spend 6 months, or a year, depending on your research.

Propos recueillis par Jean-Bruno Tagne

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