East Tirol school kids build solar panels in Tanzania

Sixth-formers at the private mechanical and electronic technical college in Lienz in Tirol have been building solar panels in Tanzania since 2006.

They have also been travelling to the country to teach locals how to operate the solar installations in schools and hospitals – such as the one built in partnership with the organisation Life Earth in Moshi.

At the hospital in Moshi, the photovoltaic installation was put together to guarantee an emergency power supply. Project director Peter Girstmair said: “It’s a win-situation for everyone. You have to consider the social component of the project – how much one can achieve with a small photovoltaic system to secure an emergency power supply in a hospital.”

For the school and the pupils, it’s an insight into a whole new world. Four A-Level students travelled to Tanzania this winter. They have a lot to report – if only of the temperatures they were not used to and the language and mosquito related issues.

Five projects have been carried out in Africa so far. There are plans to complete many other projects in the area, as long as there are financial resources available.

To help locals help themselves, pupils from technical schools in Africa were brought back to Austria to be trained in Lienz. These will then secure the functioning of the installations for years to come, using their acquired technical know-how.

The Tyrolean project was awarded the Kiwanus Prize last year and will be using the 5,000 Euro prize-money to enable a new project in Africa.