Twenty-four-year-old Josias Idani is looking forward to his career with confidence. Following his studies, which led to a design engineer diploma in June 2023, he now nurtures  his goal of expanding the company he formed with two classmates in November 2022. The first steps look promising.

“We specialize in energy audits. Since we started the business, we have worked for the local office of a maritime transport company and an international NGO. They’re small steps, but it’s a good start,” says the delighted young man.

Josias Idani can rely on the solid training he received over five years at the Higher Institute of Electrical Engineering (ISGE) in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Created in 2003 at the instigation of the country’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with the Higher School of Engineers in Electrical Engineering (ESIGELEC) in Rouen (France), the institute is managed jointly by 17 businesses and public-sector institutions interested in electrical energy and its use. It specializes in industrial electricity and renewable energies, IT and telecommunications networks, and industrial maintenance. For several years, it only trained senior technicians (two years of post-secondary education) and works engineers (with three years). In 2016, in response to the needs expressed by businesses, it created a “design engineer”  program (five years of post-secondary education), with two options — “electrical systems engineering” and “digital systems engineering”.

“The mining boom in Burkina Faso encouraged us in our plans because meant people with these skills were highly sought after. Some mining companies were even poaching engineers from other firms,” explains ISGE’s Director General, Innocent Compaoré.

Two laboratories at the ISGE funded by the African Development Bank Group

This strategy received a warm reception at the African Development Bank, which donated 555 million CFA francs (approximately EUR 845,000) to support two laboratories at the ISGE as part of the capacity-building component of the Northern Spine Project. “This support was aimed at training people in electrical engineering, so that they could ensure the long-term viability of structures and the sustainability of the project. More generally, it is perfectly aligned with the importance that the African Development Bank places on skills development and young people’s employability,” comments Daniel Ndoye, head of the Bank’s Country Office in Burkina.

The first laboratory, which was for electrical systems, has been operating since 2019.  It has 15 workstations and prepares students to design, programme and repair a variety of installations, including lifts, traffic lights, solar-powered water pumps, wind energy systems and industrial production lines. “We have latest-generation teaching materials ranging from industrial automation to renewable energies and industrial processes. A few years ago, you had to go to the Maghreb or Europe to access training of this kind,” says Innocent Compaoré.

The quality of the facilities decided Christine Naba to enrol at the ISGE. “The training is excellent. Thanks to the available equipment, there is a lot of practical work allowing students to move from theory to practice so you don’t feel at a loss when you do a placement in a business. I did mine at the Burkina National Electricity Company and in firms specializing in industrial electricity and renewable energy. We also did modules on entrepreneurship and leadership that prepare you to set up a business,” she explains. She also points out her current pre-recruitment placement in a firm specializing in rural electrification and designing power networks.

Josias Idani is also satisfied. “I’m excited about the energy mix, which involves optimizing a site’s production by using several energy sources to lower its energy bill as far as possible. I now feel capable of doing that for an administrative building.”

If the opportunity of a job in a business operating in the sector came up, he would only take it to build up his address book to advance his plans as a business owner.

The second laboratory funded by the African Development Bank was inaugurated on 27 October 2023, coinciding with the commemoration of the ISGE’s 20th anniversary. It has 22 workstations that will help significantly modernize the training process for electrical engineering students.

The African Development Bank’s support is helping to forge a stronger reputation for the ISGE, which can now welcome students from several African countries, bring foreign teachers on board and award qualifications recognized by the African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education (CAMES), which brings together 19 French- and Portuguese-speaking African countries.

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