REI Alumnus Spotlight – Helping East African rural communities to adopt Renewable Energy

GMC Certificate Achievers & REI Alumni Spotlight Kakute – Gussai Sheikheldin

In this section, we focus on the achievements of those who have attended REI courses and those who have attained the internationally recognised Galileo Master Certificate (GMC) to establish their careers in the renewable energy industry. This month, the REI talks to Gussai Sheikheldin who achieved the Renewable Energy Expert Certificate in January 2015 and is an MREI Member of the EnergyCPD Professional Membership Programme. Following his studies, Gussai is now working in Tanzania with Kakute, an organisation which is conducting important work in East Africa to improve the diffusion of sustainable technologies to provide energy solutions for rural communities across the region. Read on to learn more about Gussai and the projects he is working on. If you would like to become involved with Kakute’s social enterprise work in East Africa, you can follow the link at the bottom of this article or you can email and we will put you in touch with Gussai directly.

1. Gussai, what is your expertise in the renewable energy field?

I am an MREI Member of EnergyCPD, with a Renewable Energy Expert Certificate (from REI). My background combines engineering and socio-environmental policy, with a Bachelor degree in manufacturing engineering technology (USA), a Master’s in engineering and public policy (Canada), and a currently ongoing PhD with the School of Environmental Design & Rural Development at the University of Guelph, Canada. Additionally I have limited work experience with the Canadian renewable energy sector, through project contracts as technical project assistant, as a research assistant, and as a volunteer. I am also a published writer on environmental policy issues in a number of online and academic publications.

2. Why did you choose to undertake REI courses and become a Member of the EnergyCPD Membership Programme?

I am building my career in the field of sustainable technology for development: the processes, institutions and policies. Particularly, in the last 2 years I have become more focused on the potential for renewable energy projects in Africa. My father, an architect, informed me about the REI online courses (since he himself took some of the courses) and after review and communication with REI training program staff I was convinced to join the courses. I took the Renewable Energy Expert pathway, and in 1.5 years of intermittent courses I completed it, thus also earning an MEEC. Having this certification and membership gives me proper initiation into the field, with more solidified knowledge and a stronger professional network.

3.  Tell us more about the projects you are involved with in East Africa.

Currently I am in Tanzania, doing fieldwork research activities exploring the challenges and opportunities for sustainable technology diffusion in East Africa through social enterprises. I recently became involved in a project of renewable energy education for primary schools in Tanzania. The organization I’m partnering with, Kakute, is a veteran Tanzanian social enterprise with 20 years of experience and a record of successful projects with nationwide impacts (including a recent nationwide solar PV power service for rural households). Kakute facilitates the development and application of innovative approaches to diversify and improve technology transfer and information to rural communities and small scale entrepreneurs who seek to introduce new products or to employ new systems for sustainable development. Kakute is genuinely Tanzanian with an East African reach, established and run by a Tanzanian team including a co-founding engineer and social entrepreneur of over 30 years of experience. Tanzania has one of the lowest electrification levels in the world. Since it is evident that overall socioeconomic development requires comprehensive access to electricity supply, energy is everyone’s problem. Yet with such crisis an opportunity is presented–Tanzania is becoming a viable candidate for providing a strong case for the potential of alternative, decentralized renewable energy supply. But to pave the way for wide adoption of renewable energy solutions there needs to be sufficient work on capacity building among the local targeted communities. Most entities that diffuse renewable energy in Tanzania do not address the education step. This project – the renewable energy school program – addresses this step through introducing renewable energy technologies and their context to the younger generations of primary school students. Through a custom-designed curriculum students learn about the possibilities to integrate renewable energy into their everyday lives.  The pilot phase of the project is currently taking place with 5 primary schools in the Arusha district.

“Having this certification and membership gives me proper initiation into the field, with more solidified knowledge and a stronger professional network.” – Gussai Sheikheldin, Kakute

Kakute works with school teachers, development partners, and students’ families and communities to introduce students to the idea that new ways of generating energy can help our planet become environmentally healthy while also meeting our energy demands. The curriculum (already designed) consists of weekly classes and activities carried over a period of approximately 18 school weeks. It familiarizes students with main topics on the environment, climate change and renewable energy through presentations, class discussions and project demonstrations (including field trips). This program is a long term project initiated and implemented by Kakute since 2009. With its wide influence but limited resources, Kakute is currently running the renewable energy school program without generating any revenue from it, but as an investment in socio-environmental value creation. The program’s impact is evaluated by measuring the students’ knowledge improvement through examination on the material after the duration of the course, and school teachers give feedback on the quality the program after conclusion. This is not another project pending implementation if external funding is received. The program is already running: the curriculum already designed (by professional experts) and the activities are already carried out in a pilot project with promising results so far. More financial support to this program, if received, will be used towards expanding the reach of the program to more schools (i.e. more students) for longer periods and with better educational demonstrations and experiments.

Kakute’s website (including contact info):

For more information on the course that Gussai attended, please visit To read more feedback from our participants, please visit our testimonials page