Dakar review

Two weeks have rushed past and it‘s time to summarize my visit to Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Arriving on a Friday I had the weekend to acclimatize, both with respect to the climate and the new environment. Another aspect that I had slightly underestimated was the language barrier. Most people only spoke French and Wolof, which meant for me that I had to reactivate my French skills from high school. At this point I would like to thank Michelle Johnson and Jessica Bollyn for the translation of several documents, among others the feasibility study of kite power in Senegal, the kite power flyer of the research group and the TEDx presentation of Roland Schmehl, which made it possible for me to also reach those whose main language was French. Also, making an effort in the local language was always most welcomed and gladly received.

After a couple of days I was able to find my way around. The location of the hostel in the center of the Dakar peninsula served as an ideal base to explore the area and easily get in touch with partners from different districts. The main findings of the appointments and meetings with the different organizations and entities will be summarized briefly. Additionally, the link section provides all the relevant information for the interested reader.

Ministry of Energy

During the first week I met with a representative of the Minstry of Energy of Senegal (Ministère de l’Energie et des Mines). He showed great interest in the technology of kite power. However, at the moment their ministry is told to reduce costs due to an economical regression in the country. This is also the reason why the introduction of feed-in-tariffs for renewables (mainly PV, wind and biomass) were postponed. According to his opinion feed-in-tariffs are likely to be introduced within approximately 6 months. The exact rates for the respective sustainable energy technologies are yet to be settled. With respect to the installation of a pilot project of kite power technology he offered support and suggested a location near the coast between the cities Dakar and St. Louis. This has the advantage that it is placed sufficiently far away for them airport in Dakar. There is a lot of transit and exchange between St. Louis and Dakar, which is beneficial for visiting the site for both research and maintenance. Moreover, the system would be seen by many people, which is favorable for marketing and awareness purposes.

CERER (Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches sur les Energies Renouvelables)

The center of studies and research for renewable energies (CERER) has its campus located in the eastern part of Dakar. It is the department for renewable energy within the University of Dakar (UCAD), which is the largest university in Senegal with more than 80,000 students.

After first meeting with the responsible engineer for the department of photovoltaics and control quality, I was given the opportunity to present the work of the research group in front of several guests, among others the director of CERER and the German researcher who is working with CERER.

I chose to give the presentation in French, which went quite well followed by an extensive Q&A. Both students and staff members showed great interest in the technology and asked valuable questions with respect to several important issues that need to be addressed in the upcoming months: airspace regulation, reliability, safety and costs just to name a few.

What is more, the CERER representatives indicated strong interest in a collaboration of TU Delft and CERER as well. In the near future, the possibilities and opportunities for projects and student exchange in both directions will be identified and put into action. CERER also showed interest in the theoretical aspect of the topic of airborne wind energy (AWE) and kite power in particular.


Located on the campus of ESP (Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique), innodev is an incubator that focuses on technology startups. The ESP itself is again part of the UCAP. I was able to meet the director of innodev, who has a background in physics and atmospheric sciences, meaning that he understood the concept and potential of kite power very well. Additionally he started his own company that produces small-scale wind turbines for the rural areas of Senegal.

He showed great interest in combining his trip to Europe with a visit to Delft, especially the faculty of Aerospace Engineering and the Yes!Delft incubator. Further, he was positive towards collaboration in the future in several ways: between the two universities of TU Delft and ESP, between the two incubators Yes!Delft and innodev, but also between his start-up and a potential kite power spin-off in the future.

According to his opinion, a kite power system would best fit in rural areas. That is, where a lot of problems with respect to electricity exist and a lot of people are still without any access to electricity at all.

What is more, he had concrete ideas of how the technology could be applied on specific applications such as the production of UHT milk (e.g. in collaboration with a Dutch company). He showed interest in ideas that strive to replace the battery system with e.g. hydro storage combined with water pumping.

Closing remarks

It has proven difficulty to update the blog due to internet access being only available via 3G for the phone, which was not capable of loading the page. However, for more frequent (though brief) news, please also check out the twitter page.

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.

© 2011 TU Delft