Journey of Short Courses & MSc Establishment at the National University of Lesotho

Date: 13 June 2017

Related Project: Southern African Sustainable Energy Initiative

Starting in October 2013, working together with Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), University of Botswana (UB) and Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (H-Da) in Germany, a 42-months’ project was secured from the ACP-EU Edulink II programme to undertake the Southern African Sustainable Energy Initiative (SASEI) project. One of the main goals of the SASEI project was capacity development in the area of sustainable energy at three levels: systemic (policy and decision makers), institutional (academics and researchers) and individual (industry and society).  In realizing this major milestone, the three regional institutions (NUL, UB and NUST) were expected to develop programmes that can address issues of skills capacity, be they undergraduate courses, postgraduate programmes and/or short courses.  For the courses and programmes to be practical and relevant the energy skills audit in each respective country was determined.

The audit process in the three countries (Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia) began through collection and analysis of all major relevant energy documents. NUL then produced a report called the “Lesotho Energy Needs Assessment” in May 2014 which was disseminated to major stakeholders in the country. Some of the recurring challenges / themes throughout the documents which could be addressed by academic institutions included:

  • Technical Data Availability: This can be achieved through collaborative research in place of costly consultancies. The spin-offs being individual and institutional capacity building on the side of involved students/researchers and institution/company.
  • Training / Capacity Development: Technology advances and changes, hence both regular short courses and degree courses are needed to address the low expertise pool
  • Co-ordination Secretariat / Centre:  Offer both online and hardcopy database services of all energy data and study reports as it is currently hard or impossible to access literature or data produced in Lesotho.

A first stakeholders workshop to discuss the findings of the Lesotho Energy Needs Assessment report was held in June 2014, attended by around 50 delegates from NUL, Lerotholi Polytechnic (LP), Bethel Business and Community Development Centre (BBCDC), Department of Energy (DoE), Department of Science & Technology (DST), Lesotho Meteorological Services (LMS), Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC), Lesotho Electricity and Water Authority (LEWA), Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA), Moshoeshoe I International Airport (MIA), MOSCET, PowerConsult, BreezePower, Technologies for Economic Development (TED), Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), together with SASEI project partners from UB, NUST and H-Da. The workshop was officially opened by the then Acting Minister of Energy, Meteorology and Water Affairs (MEMWA), Honourable Khotso Matla, in the presence of the NUL Executive Management, led by the then Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof. Mafa Sejanamane, and the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology (FOST). The ensuing deliberations were chaired by the Director of DoE, the Director of DST and the Managing Director of LEC.

Figure 1 – Participants at the October 2014 Stakeholders Workshop at Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village

Subsequent to the stakeholders’ consultation workshops, NUL embarked on a curriculum development exercise for the Sustainable Energy Short Courses in line with the stakeholders’ recommendations. A set of ten modules listed in Table 1 were developed in an attempt to address the capacity development needs identified in the area of Sustainable Energy. With support from the SASEI project, the NUL Management and the University of Stellenbosch Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES), NUL staff members underwent Training-of-Trainers (ToT) programme which included Renewable Energy Resources Assessment (NUST), Solar PV Systems and Energy Management (UB), Energy Economics (NUL), and CRSES’s: Renewable Energy Policy, Introduction Solar Energy, Advanced Solar Energy, Renewable Energy Financing, Wind Energy, Bio-Energy and Hydro & Ocean Energy. 

The Sustainable Energy Short Courses were officially launched in September 2016 by the then Minister of Energy and Meteorology (Honourable Selibe Mochoboroane) who also delivered a keynote speech imploring the NUL to play a major role in advancing knowledge towards adapting energy solutions that can assist the majority of people without access to modern energy. His speech followed remarks by the NUL Vice Chancellor (Prof Nqosa Mahao), Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the EU to the Kingdom of Lesotho (Mr. Theodorus Kaspers) and the Director of the Department of Energy (Mr. Thabang Phuroe). Following the launch ceremony, which was still attended by many of the original stakeholders and various media houses, the Sustainable Energy Short Courses schedule for 2017, shown in Table 1, was advertised in national television and local newspapers. The Short Courses are currently running with a minimum of 20 participants per module already confirmed for the whole year.

Figure 2 – Participants at the Sustainable Energy Short Courses Launch Ceremony on 15th September 2016

Table 1 – Sustainable Energy Short Courses at NUL – Schedule for 2017

Modules

Training Dates

  1. Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

 

23rd – 28th January 2017

  1. Solar Thermal Systems

 

20th – 25th February 2017

  1. Solar Photovoltaic Systems

 

20th – 25th March 2017

  1. Wind Energy

 

24th – 29th April 2017

  1. Energy Policy, Regulation and Environment

 

22nd – 27th May 2017

  1. Bio-Energy

 

19th – 24th June 2017

  1. Energy Economics, Finance and Project Management

 

24th – 29th July 2017

  1. Hydropower

 

21st – 26th August 2017

  1. Electrical Power Systems

 

25th – 30th September 2017 

  1. Engineering Design for Rural Villages

 

23rd – 28th October 2017

 

 
MSc Programme - Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP)

 

Following the interactions at the Joint Stakeholders Conference on three ACP-EU collaborative higher education and research programmes in Brussels in July 2016 through the SASEI project, NUL submitted a formal request for support to Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) for the establishment of a Master of Science (MSc) in Sustainable Energy. Under the support of the ACP-EU funded SASEI project which ended in March 2017, NUL developed short courses in Sustainable Energy which started running in January 2017. With RECP support, these short courses are now being upgraded to an accredited MSc programme in Sustainable Energy as initially proposed in Table 2.

The RECP aims at developing renewable energy markets in Africa. With a focus on (1) Policy Advisory Services, (2) Private Sector Cooperation, (3) Access to Finance and (4) Innovation & Skills Development. In the area of Innovation & Skills Development, the RECP supports African universities in training future energy engineers, entrepreneurs, as well as policy experts. Through market needs assessments, development of curricula, course material and certification standards, the RECP also supports partner institutions in training skilled renewable energy technicians. In doing so, the programme promotes industry cooperation as well as gender equality.

The RECP has facilitated the resuscitation and internationalization of a renewable energy Master’s programme at the University of Zimbabwe since 2015. RECP invited NUL to participate in the UZ Advisory Board meetings in August 2016 in order to learn from experience and identify opportunities for NUL MSc programme. Moreover, RECP implemented the first Africa-EU Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Symposium (RERIS 2016) in collaboration with the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES) and University of Tlemcen in Algeria in March 2016. And now it is collaborating with NUL to run the second Africa-EU Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Symposium (RERIS 2018) in 23rd – 26th January 2018 at the occasion of the NUL International Science and Technology Innovation Conference and Expo (NULISTICE 2018) http://www.nulistice.org.ls/

A call for abstracts is preceding the symposium, targeting researchers from Africa and Europe involved in research or business roll-outs on the following topics: 

  • grid connected renewable energy;
  • de-centralised renewable and household energy solutions;
  • energy socioeconomics (e.g. policy, economics, legal, regulatory and social issues);
  • promotion of energy research, innovation, education and entrepreneurship.

To learn more, please refer here and download the Call for Abstracts from the download section at the bottom of the article.

 

Table 2 – Original M.Sc. in Sustainable Energy Programme at NUL

Year I

Course Code

Course Title

Credits

Contact Hours/Sem

Exam

SE 6400

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6401

Solar PV Systems

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6402

Solar Thermal Systems

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6403

Bio-Energy

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6404

Wind Energy

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

 

 

 

 

 

SE 6405

Hydropower

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6406

Electrical Power Systems

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6407

Energy Policy, Regulation and Environment

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6408

Energy Economics, Finance and Project Management

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6409

Engineering Design for Rural Villages

4

44

Mini-project report

Year II

Course Code

Course Title

Pre-requisites

Credits

Exam

SE 7999

Sustainable Energy Dissertation

Pass 40 credits of taught courses

20

Thesis report

 

During the week of 6th – 10th February 2017, RECP supported the MSc in Sustainable Energy Curriculum Development Workshop and the formation of the MSc Sustainable Energy Advisory Board (AB). Participants at the workshop came from the local stakeholders who also took part in the development of the short courses, together with the SASEI project partner Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). The participation was further reinforced by regional and international experts from Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT, South Africa), SADC Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREEE, Namibia), Management Centre Innsbruck (MCI, Austria) and Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku (Finland). The workshop was officially opened by the NUL Pro-Vice Chancellor, Prof. ‘Manthoto Lephoto. Over and above the workshop, most of the participants from the academic institutions took advantage of finishing up and submitting a collaborative EU Erasmus+ proposal which, if successful, will continue to support the work and projects on sustainable energy initiated through ACP-EU Edunlink II (SASEI) and RECP.

Figure 3 – Some of the participants at the Solar PV Systems short course in March 2017

The aims of the newly formed Advisory Board (AB) are to provide an independent, expert review and critique of the academic activities of the NUL Energy Research Center (ERC) which is currently managed as a virtual entity by the Department of Physics & Electronics. The AB was formed during the workshop and immediately tasked with looking into the proposed MSc in Sustainable Energy curriculum to improve the quality of teaching, research and services so as to enhance the relevance of its graduates and services to the energy sector.

During the curriculum development workshop, the AB and other participants made several inputs, comments, adjustments and additions to the original proposal of Table 2 to reflect a more inclusive curriculum in terms of technical and socio-economic content. For instance, a module on Sustainable Development was proposed, and rearrangements of topics from other courses to cater for Energy Planning and Management were also suggested. The exercise of incorporating all the recommendations from the workshop resulted in the final proposed structure of the MSc programme, with 12 courses instead of the original 10, as shown in Table 3.

Table 3 – Revised M.Sc. in Sustainable Energy Programme at NUL

Year I

Course Code

Course Title

Credits

Contact Hours/Sem

Exam

Introductory Courses (Compulsory)

 

 

 

SE 6400

Introduction to Renewable Energy

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6410

Sustainable Development

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

 

 

 

 

 

Technical Courses (Electives)

 

 

 

SE 6401

Solar PV Systems

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6402

Solar Thermal Systems

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6403

Bio-Energy

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6404

Wind Energy

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6405

Hydropower

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6406

Electrical Power Systems

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

 

 

 

 

 

Socio-Economic Courses (Electives)

 

 

 

SE 6411

Energy Planning and Management

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6412

Energy Policy and Regulation

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6413

Energy Economics and Project Finance

4

44

1 x 3 hour paper

SE 6414

Sustainable Energy Solutions for Rural Communities

4

44

Mini-project report

Year II

Course Code

Course Title

Pre-requisites

Credits

Exam

SE 7999

Sustainable Energy Dissertation

Pass 40 credits of taught courses (SE 3.02)

20

Thesis report

 

At the Faculty of Science and Technology Planning Committee meeting, held in April 2017, the revised programme was presented, discussed and approved for onward recommendation to the Faculty Board, subject to the re-numbering of regulations following the normal university and faculty nomenclature, harmonization of credits requirements for all post-graduate programmes in the faculty (ad hoc committee set up to look into this issue) and a suggestion to have two programmes: MSc Sustainable Energy Systems (for the technical track inclination) and MSc Sustainable Energy Management (for the socio-economic track inclination).

Figure 5 – Participants at the Curriculum Development Workshop and AB Meeting in February 2017

Subsequent to the consultation with regional and international institutions, including the RECP, the revised structure with technical and socio-economic tracks, was benchmarked with interdisciplinary programmes of similar nature was maintained. This included programmes at NUST (Master of Sustainable Energy), University of Botswana (M.Sc. Sustainable Energy Systems Engineering), University of Zimbabwe (M.Sc. in Renewable Energy), Stellenbosch University (Masters in Renewable and Sustainable Energy) and the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES) at the University of Tlemcen (Master in Energy). Therefore, the Department of Physics and Electronics requested to offer the designed interdisciplinary curriculum as one programme – MSc in Sustainable Energy.

As of 12th June, 2017 the programme has been approved by the Faculty Board and submitted to NUL’s Academic Planning Committee (APC) which hopefully will peruse the programme in the next two weeks. After approval from APC the programme will then be submitted to NUL’s Senate for final approval and to the Council on Higher Education (CHE) for accreditation. CHE takes an average of 6 months to accredit programmes hence it is hoped that it will be launched and commenced at RERIS 2018 in January 2018.

 

Source and contacts: 

Dr. Leboli Thamae and Dr. Moeketsi Mpholo, Energy Research Centre, National University of Lesotho, Roma 180, Lesotho.

Niklas Hayek, Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP), GIZ GmbH, Eschborn, Germany.

Email: energy@nul.ls