Please join us in congratulating Andrew Obok Opok, our second Genius Grant award recipient for 2021. Andrew is an engineer and an entrepreneur. He is professionalizing the solar pv industry in his native Botswana and we are proud to support him in that work.

HeatSpring Genius Grants are cash payments with no strings attached. We recognize renewable energy professionals doing important work that might otherwise go unnoticed or overlooked. We want to reward and promote these people for their contributions to our industry.

We asked Andrew to share some details and thoughts about his work. Below you’ll find his responses, along with some pictures from his work establishing the Delta Institute of Technology.

Can you help us understand your work and what you’re trying to accomplish?

Andrew: The Delta Institute of Technology is established to serve as a conduit for integrating, facilitating, enabling, and offering professional skills training programs in renewable energy, solar energy systems, and continuous professional development (CDP).

Today we offer design and installation training for solar pv and solar hot water systems.

DIT is conceptualized as a CPD-centered institute for engineering and technology programmes, with renewable energy systems taking a central role. It will be located close to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. The core programmes of the Institute shall be renewable energy focusing on solar PV generation systems, solar thermal energy systems, wind energy systems, biogas energy systems.

Class photo with trainees at 1.3 MW solar plant in Botswana (2020)

Why is your work important for the industry?

Andrew: Our work benefits the industry in many ways:

  • We will build capacity. The Institute will be a pioneering strategy in filling the gap in skills capacity building in renewable energy and solar energy systems as part of national policy on human resources development in those areas.
  • We will help professionalize the renewable energy industry. The Engineers Registration Board of Botswana requires all engineers and technologists to obtain a minimum of 10 credit hours per year of CPD to maintain their registration with the Board. Without registration these professionals cannot be allowed to practice their skills. Currently there is no institution in Botswana catering for the needs and requirements of engineers and technologists for CPD. The Delta Institute of Technology is poised to fill that gap.
  • There is a financial benefit to professionals. The courses and programmes in renewable energy and solar energy systems will be locally based. It will be on-line in the longer term. Professionals in Botswana and southern Africa region will not need to travel abroad to undertake these programmes, and in the process they will save large sums of money in fees, airfare, and time.
  • Our work has benefits for environment and climate change. The expected increased professional skills capacity in renewable energy and solar energy systems will lead to accelerated uptake of solar energy applications in Botswana and southern Africa. As solar is undisputed sustainable source of energy the growth in its application will be of immediate benefit to climate change through reduction in production of carbon dioxide and greenhouse emissions.
Closing Ceremony- Renewable Energy Training- Lesotho 2019

What do you hope to accomplish in your work over the next 1-3 years?

Andrew: We have six major goals with this project:

(i) to provide professional skills and capacity development in renewable energy and solar energy systems to dramatically promote access to renewable energy services in Botswana and the Southern Africa region

(ii) to establish a corporate relationship with HeatSpring Learning Institute in the USA with the objective of offering their international recognized professional courses in renewable energy and solar energy systems to our professionals in Botswana and Southern Africa

(iii) To establish the Institute as Continuous Professional Development centre by offering programs which satisfy the registration requirements of engineers and technologists in Botswana with local Engineers Registration Board.

(iv) To become an agent of change in accelerating the rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

(v) To step up the share of renewable energy and solar energy systems in the national and regional energy mix.

(vi) To create a pool of local experts and specialist on renewable energy and solar energy systems, able to develop new technologies, leading to creation of local employment

Maintenance inspection of hot water collectors- University of Botswana student hostel

How the Delta Institute of Technology Leverages HeatSpring’s Content & Platform

Andrew is building DIT’s curriculum using HeatSpring’s online learning platform and catalog of 180+ courses. We’re working together to blend existing courses with new custom content developed by Andrew and his colleagues that is tailored for the local market. Through this partnership we can:

  • Empower the DIT to offer local and international credentials
  • Enable faculty with supplementary content mapped to their curriculum
  • Deliver stronger student job outcomes with multi-disciplinary courses
  • Increase student capacity without increasing infrastructure costs
  • Attract new students with a stronger global reputation

Genius Grant Update

We’ve received so many impressive applications for the 2021 Genius Award. It’s not possible for us to fund all of the incredible people who have worked so hard to innovate. We’re going to announce more winners in the weeks ahead and look for other ways to support those who don’t win.

With sincere gratitude to all entrepreneurs and innovators,