3 questions to Borhane Mzita, operation manager at Energy Assistance France
How would you sum up the year 2019 for Energy Assistance France?
Borhane Mzita: In addition to the 23 projects carried out in five countries outlined in our annual report, I am very happy to see that never before have so many women been involved! They now account for nearly a third of the volunteers mobilised and we hope to achieve parity soon, proving that prejudices about jobs that are supposedly only for men are losing ground. Another specific feature of 2019 is the increased integration of local ENGIE volunteers, real facilitators who help drive projects forward.
Did the pandemic affect progress in 2020?
B. M.: We managed to successfully supply electricity to a school and a health centre in Senegal just before lockdown and were able to donate a thousand pairs of safety glasses to the Bégin military hospital, but overall, missions have been on hold. That does not prevent us from making progress on technical studies, cost estimations and volunteer training. However, in September, after the devastating explosion in Beirut, we carried out an evaluation mission with the support of the ENGIE Foundation. We were then able to initiate three concrete projects to help a population in great difficulty: the installation of solar-powered public lighting by Christmas in a district close to the port, and the installation of photovoltaic systems to supply electricity to the hospital’s paediatric department and a school next year. Finally, four volunteers will travel to Casamance in Senegal in November - taking all the necessary health precautions, obviously - to carry out an audit of photovoltaic installations as part of a project we are running in collaboration with the Energies pour le Monde Foundation (Fondem).
And what about next year?
B. M.: We are in the starting blocks for the many projects that will unfold as soon as conditions allow! One of them is particularly important to me: the electrification of a school and a health centre in the bush, in Senegal, a project in which around thirty French, Senegalese and Tunisian high school students will participate!
Energy Assistance France in figures:
- Created in 2005
- More than 250 volunteers, both active and retired ENGIE employees
- 23 projects in 5 countries in 2019, benefiting 106,301 people
- 147 projects in 37 countries, more than 1.5 million people helped since its creation.