Mali – The capacity building program for EOL Mali

“Now we managed to do these engine fitting rails so nice and straight, we are able to make a train line to Bamako

“Maintenant qu’on a fait les rails du moteur aussi droits, on peut faire une ligne de train jusqu’a Bamako



The traditional year in Mali begins with the Aid-el-Fitr festivities that mark the end of the Ramadan. As any time mark, it is an opportunity to reflect on where you stand and project yourself in the future. We grasped this opportunity and the result is a new, detailed plan for the work of the three next months, with daily deliverables for each of our Malian team’s subgroups: the wood group, the metal group and the electricity group.

Setting detailed deliverables is a necessary but delicate exercise when you consider the density of “imprevus” (unpredicted events) that punctuate life in Mali and make all european style plans irrealistic. We hope to have reached a fair compromise between ambition and resilience to “imprevus”, between long term and short term benefits. This plan was presented at the beginning of this week to the group, and I would like to share its bold lines with you as well:

  • In September we will improve our installations, by finalising the workshop and classroom buildings, making furniture to accommodate all the tools we received from Gered Gereedschap and furnish the new classroom using the furniture we received from Delft university surplus
  • In October we will erect a second turbine in the Here Bugu area for agricultural activities support
  • In November we will set up an experimental wind-powered battery charging station in the Dialango village
  • In December we will start production a set of two complete wind-powered battery charging stations for our first commercial customer (name remains undisclosed until end of negotiation), which will occupy us until the end of February!


The second novelty is the new organisation of the day: every morning we start with 1h for personal development and theoretical education. This education’s primary goal is to increase the precision of the manufacturing processes by improve the trainees fine motricity and sense of space.

In this effort, we started with a basic drawing cursus that is receiving great enthusiasm from the group. Harouna and Zim had never held a pen in their hands until they started the wind turbine education. You should have seen their pride after they managed drawing a cubus with the help of the rest of the group. They brought their drawing home in their own folder, showed it to their family and even went around proudly showing : “now, I am someone who can use a pen and a piece of paper!”

Every morning, we will draw the cubus, again and again, until it has exactly the demanded size and angles, before we move on to other shapes and finally draw what we will build on each day.



Increasing work precision is a long standing effort involving frustrating moments for the trainee’s, but it is a necessary process in order to build a strong and capable team.
Being confronted with your current limitations can shackle self-esteem and motivation, which is why we are trying to couple this process with rewarding moments at which people can feel proud about their achievements. There needs to be a light at the end of tunnel.
Today was a good example of that: we spent the whole day working on our diesel genset to precisely align the diesel motor with the electrical generator. The group had to redo some parts of the frame several times before they were good enough, and got quite stressed in the process. Yet, in the end of the day Bamoye (one of the EOL Mali trainees) exclaimed some of the nicest words I have heard in a long time:

now we managed to do these engine fitting rails so nice and straight, we are able to make a train line to Bamako

I think he resumed very well what all our plan is about: Empowerment.

Gael de Oliveira