As I already described in SOLTRAIN Newsletter #3 in August, none of the SOLTRAIN team imagined that the technical train the trainer courses and the policy workshops held at the beginning of the year would be the last time in 2020 that we would be able to convene in person and on-site in the respective partner countries.
Soon afterwards, however, it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic would limit travel enough to disrupt planned activities, and that the only option was to convene them online. The SOLTRAIN team reacted quickly and decisively to the new situation.
In order to maintain the best possible communication flow between all partners, we introduced monthly online Steering Committee meetings and converted all training courses to a hybrid format. This meant that in the partner countries, the course participants met on-site in compliance with the respective COVID-19 guidelines. Participants from AEE INTEC and Kuda Ndhlukula from SACREEE were all connected via an online web platform.
Against all expectations, this format worked extremely well from the start, both technically and in terms of content. Between March and November, we were able to conduct seven technical training courses, seven policy workshops and nine sector information workshops.
The solar companies also remained very active in 2020 despite the pandemic restrictions, and have used the time effectively between the lock-down phases to install a number of solar thermal systems.
One of these systems was completed in November in Lesotho. In this regard, SolarSoft has installed four thermosyphon systems, each with a storage capacity of 150 litres, on the newly built Setona townhouses in Maseru.
Despite these successes, we have all missed personal meetings and the intensive exchange of new ideas throughout 2020.
However, we are once again optimistic that we will be able to intensify our successful cooperation again in the coming year and are therefore planning for physical meetings for 2021.
I would like to thank the entire SOLTRAIN team in the six partner countries and SACREEE for their excellent cooperation in this challenging year. Special thanks also go to the Austrian Development Agency, which this year succeeded in securing the full funding for the SOLTRAIN project, which was uncertain due to the withdrawal of OFID.