Last week the first international conference on small scale (local build) wind turbines was held in Dakar, Senegal. The one-week conference was part of the bigger World Social Forum. I was very excited to go there, because I could meet with a lot of people that I only know by e-mail. Moreover for me it was the first time to meet Hugh Piggott.
The conference was fantastic. Organizations from all over the world with experience on HughPiggott-type wind turbines (for the experts: horizontal axis, axial flux, PMG, auto-furling) came together to share their experience. Not only the technicalities of these turbines where discussed. Also experience on how to integrate this technology in rural communities was shared. This gave the conference a fascinating mixture of cultural and technical aspects of small scale wind in off-grid Africa.
Organizations are normally divided in two main categories: NGO’s and for-profits. After a couple of days we concluded that this is a strange way of classifying, because the ‘for-profits’ that operate in Africa are often fighting very hard to keep the business up, leaving a small marginal profit for themselves. Whereas the NGO’s (the ‘non-profits’) from Europa and USA normally have a high standard of living, can efford new cars, and allow themselves a lot of traveling with airplanes. To quote one participante from Africa: “my conference room is not fancy enough to become an NGO, therefore I started a for-profit :-)”. Social enterprises appear to be a succesfull way of achieving the desired goal.
All participating organizations have interest in a structural sharing of their knowledge and experience. Therefore probably a world wide association will be formed. If you have interest in joining or like to know more about this, do not hesitate to contact us or another organization that was present in Dakar. We are still in the process of coming up with the most appropriate name for this association. Because there are a lot of similarities with ‘open source software’, the brainstorm session came up with names like ‘open wind’, ‘fair wind’, and more funny names which will be difficult to explain if you did not attend the bar session of the previous night. More on this topic in the near future.