In January 23, our colleagues Patrick D and Juanito R F went to Lokpo and Gbessou in Benin to receive and control the installations realized by ARESS, mandated for the realization and remotely controlled by the project manager Freddy A.
The mission was complemented by visits to 9 additional sites, 5 sites built by EA Belgium and 4 by EA France, as well as visits to potential projects (6 schools and 3 health centers) in the So-Ava region.
Patrick tells us:
“During this mission, we travelled more than 1200 km by car and more than 20 hours by canoe (a little is nice, but that much …)
During our journey, we were accompanied by Joel Kiki, member of ENGIE Benin, in charge of offering solar kits in the most remote Beninese villages, and depending on the place, some other members of ENGIE Benin joined us.
We started with the elementary school of Gbessou but we noticed several deficiencies both electrically and aesthetically, despite the follow-up via Whatsapp of the project manager Freddy A. It appears that the team was mainly composed of novices with little experience in electrical installation and we are therefore very far from the quality encountered on other projects carried out by ARESS
In Lokpo, another surprise: while we expected to find a completed site, everything was still in progress.
We therefore asked and showed the teams in place what we expected of them so that the installation would be carried out according to our criteria of safety and aesthetics, as well as how to connect certain electrical devices.
And we decided to continue our journey towards the other projects to be controlled
First stop in Cocotomey, where we checked the work requested from ARESS, following reports of recurring breakdowns. The problem was solved to the satisfaction of the beneficiaries.
We continued our journey to the Bohicon region where we visited 3 facilities built in November 2018 by our colleagues from D’EA Belgium
- In Lokosoum, everything is in perfect working order and maintenance to the great pleasure of the beneficiaries, who asked us for the extension of two buildings that were abandoned in 2018 and recently returned to activity following the increase in the number of students attending the school.
- In Todo, unfortunately, the solar power supply of the large multipurpose hall is completely abandoned, following the death of the contact we had on site.
- Finally, in Saclo, the installation was still functional, but the basic project of a school-farm has been abandoned due to lack of water (a pirate connection had been made to the inverter for the connection of a pump which was too small and did not work). The solar electricity is used only for the housing of a family and we noticed a flagrant lack of maintenance of the panels, covered with a beautiful layer of sand, the lack of water undoubtedly explains that.
The next stage brought us to the north of Parakou, 420 kms from Cotonou. Boko hosts a large hospital complex, partly equipped with solar installations that could help overcome the deficiencies of the Beninese network. The beneficiary contacted us because, after the installation of the system, an error code informing of a too high load was frequently appearing on two of the three inverters. Based on our recommendations, the hospital’s electrician split the installation to connect only consumers up to 4.5 kW to reduce the load of each inverter.
We then went to the capital to visit 4 installations realized by our colleagues from EA France.
- In Djomon, a very large school with morethan 1000 students was partially equipped with a photovoltaic installation to organize evening classes. Except for the fixing and the frame of the solar panels eaten by rust, everything is in perfect state of maintenance and functioning.
- For the 3 other installations, the result is very disappointing: the solar installation in Allankpon does not work anymore, the batteries are swollen and the inverter has been used as a nest for ?
- The Avrakou nursery, which was supposed to finance the operation of Ste Bibiane, is no longer functioning and has been transformed into an office.
- In Ste Bibiane, the installation is no longer working either, both the inverter and the batteries, which have already been replaced once, are out of order.
Back on the two initial projects, we had the great satisfaction to see that the work requested was quickly executed by the “ARESS” staff who were very attentive and eager to learn!
During our visit, we noticed that the roof was not 100% waterproof and that the solar components could be flooded! This remark was quickly taken into account by the installation of a new roof.
And finally, we spent the time we had left to “size” several projects located on the lagoon in the town of Sô-ava: 6 schools from 200 to 850 students and 3 health centers.
Thank you all, and thank you to EA for having allowed us, once again, to live a very enriching human experience.”
And it is a huge thank you that we address to Patrick, Juanito and Freddy for this rich and long mission and for the time they gave for all these projects.