EMPOWER: Vol 5. Issue 4 – May 2021

Home / News / EMPOWER: Vol 5. Issue 4 – May 2021
Posted On: 05.16.2021

The President’s Short Message
IEEE Smart Village Hall of Honor
In 2020, IEEE Smart Village inducted the two co-founders, Ray Larsen and Robin Podmore, into the newly formed Hall of Honor. The contributions of these two individuals to IEEE Smart Village has been extraordinary and is the reason that IEEE Smart Village is as strong as it is today.

IEEE Smart Village is composed of a large number of volunteers and entrepreneurs around the world. While Ray and Robin have made major contributions to IEEE Smart Village, the success of IEEE Smart Village needs to be shared with all involved such as people like the late Pat Ryan, executive director of the IEEE Power and Energy Society. While I would like to nominate Pat posthumously to the IEEE Smart Village Hall of Honor, it is important to recognize those living legends who have made IEEE Smart Village successful. That is where the IEEE Smart Village Nomination process for the Hall of Honor is being introduced as part of this message.

During my first year of tenure as the IEEE Smart Village President, I have met and worked with a lot of wonderful people who are each providing a very valuable service to IEEE Smart Village. We already have a number of legendary volunteers and entrepreneurs within IEEE Smart Village that deserve the recognition of being placed into the IEEE Smart Village Hall of Honor. Please take time to read the nomination process described in this newsletter and nominate one of these legendary people. Thank you.

IEEE Smart Village – Hall of Honor

The IEEE Smart Village Members (ISV) Hall of Honor Committee will consist of:

  1. Committee Chair – Appointed by the ISV President to serve for a minimum of two years with a possible two-year extension. The committee chair shall be a voting member.
  2. Previous ISV Hall of Honor Recipients – At the recipient’s discretion, each past ISV Hall of Fame recipient shall be a voting member on the committee.
  3. ISV Committee Member at Large – There shall be three members at large who are appointed by the ISV President to serve a term of two years with the possibility of one, two-year extension. Each member at large shall be a voting member.

Candidates must be IEEE members in good standing; active in IEEE Smart Village endeavors, departments/committees, projects, operations or other activities for a minimum period of 5 years; and shall have provided significant volunteer contributions to IEEE Smart Village

No current member of the IEEE Smart Village Members Hall of Honor Committee or IEEE staff may be a candidate for this award.
Members shall be inducted to the IEEE Smart Village Hall of Honor by a simple majority vote of the ISV award committee. Committee members may vote Yes, No or Abstain.


Applications shall be evaluated and decided by the Management Committee of ISV with one assigned delegate from the Board of Governors.
Selection will be based on evaluation and accomplishment related to exemplary support to ISV through activities such as:

  • ISV leadership activities
  • Department/Committee activities
  • Department/Committee executive activities
  • Support of Entrepreneurial projects
  • Development of ISV standards
  • Promotion and marketing of ISV
  • Solicitation of ISV financial support
  • Other exemplary ISV activities


Nominators shall file an application available which is attached and will also be located on the IEEE Smart Village website.
Self-nomination is acceptable.

A minimum of two endorsements is required, but not more than four endorsements will be accepted.


Awardees shall not receive more than one award in any five-year period.


A limit of no more than two candidates may be inducted to the ISV Hall of Honor on an annual basis. There is no requirement to induct a person in any given year.

  • Deadline for submission of nomination: July 1
  • Deadline for results from selection committee: August 1
  • Approval from ISV Governing Board: Sept 1
  • Communication to inductees: October
  • Award: By end of year
  • Presentation of Award: The venue of the award presentation shall be at the discretion of the Awardee.

Download Nomination Form [HERE]

University of Johannesburg launches its first ISV Student Branch
South Africa’s University of Johannesburg, launched its first IEEE Smart Village (ISV) student branch in February this year with 34 students coming on board.

Ranging from second year to post graduate students, the branch has had three virtual meetings since its inception and an executive has been selected.



In line with ISVx vision, the student branch has categorized the projects into three projects.

  1. Solar and microgrids.
  2. E-Mobility
  3. Power, energy and robotics.

The students determine which group(s) to join based on their passion and interest.

The solar and microgrids group is working on a techno-economic analysis of a microgrid in an unelectrified village that has a lemon processing company. The company operates on generators, and is interested in converting to clean energy according to an investigation carried out by a member of team. The microgrid is intended to serve both the company and other residential buildings in the village. Under the e-Mobility project the students intend to convert vehicles running on gasoline to electric vehicles and their proposal is almost completed.

The pioneer of the student branch, Dr. Omowunmi Mary Longe, Lecturer at the University, appreciated the enthusiasm of the students to join the branch. She explained that the drive to join is attributed to the free membership by ISVx and knowing the benefit of gaining hands on experience while improving the lives of people in the communities they intend to serve.

“The students also see it a learning experience as they interact with fellow students and our aim as a team is to see that this morale of learning and sharing ideas doesn’t go to waste but mushrooms into something great”. Dr Longe added.

The excitement of the students has led to an increase in membership each month and the membership is expected to reach 200 students by early next year.

However, limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, the student branch has not been able to hold physical events but has dedicated a day in the month to hold a virtual meeting. During the meetings so far, the group have been researching on the best way to sustain their projects. The dedicated team have identified local funders they would like to bring on board to see that their projects are sustainable as well as appreciated by the local investors.

With the commitment, determination, zeal and excitement, the new student branch on the block seems to be headed for great success!

Off and Running to Support ISV
“As an IEEE employee, who better to support than the IEEE Foundation right within our own walls?” says Lou Vacca. Though he’d been aware of IEEE’s services and global impact since joining the organization in 2008, Lou, who is a manager within the IEEE Publishing Operations, participated in a running event and since then, has been a staunch supporter of ISV.

As Manager of Manufacturing, Distribution & Reprints, IEEE Publishing Operations in Piscataway, NJ, USA, Lou Vacca’s work with IEEE Foundation’s publications, such as the Foundation Focus newsletter and Annual Reports, piqued his interest in the mission and inspired him to help those in need around the world.

“As an IEEE employee, who better to support than the IEEE Foundation right within our own walls?” he said. Though he’d been aware of IEEE’s services and global impact since joining the organization in 2008, “it wasn’t until participating in an outside running event with fellow staff members that it occurred to me to leverage that camaraderie and support the IEEE’s fundraising efforts in some way,” he said. “The IEEE Smart Village initiative really resonated with me because it can lead to incredibly impactful outcomes for an individual or community – including improved medical attention/service, economic resilience, self-sufficiency, education, labor development, security/safety, and, most importantly, the hope for a better tomorrow for so many.”

Vacca is excited that his donations to IEEE Smart Village can help provide citizens worldwide with access to electricity and entrepreneurial opportunities. “Renewable, clean electricity can drive so many benefits for its users and it’s gratifying to support IEEE Smart Village based on its far-reaching impact and contribution to the creation of stronger global communities,” he said.

“Whether supporting engineering scholarships, raising awareness for engineering in classrooms, providing renewable electricity, or supporting volunteers and local underserved community programs, many key programs need our support,” Vacca confirmed of the value of donating to IEEE. “The IEEE Foundation offers many programs that benefit education and advance technology and it’s important and rewarding to become a participant/ambassador to our IEEE community.”

Natoot Farm Project offers Hope to the Turkana People
In 2017, a dream was put to reality when Bright Hope International started a farm that would give the Turkana people of Kenya a nutritional, sustainable source of food. The Natoot Farm project sits on a 3.8 acre community-owned land, located in Turkana County, which is the second largest of the 47 counties in the country.

Turkana is ranked as one of the poorest counties in Kenya despite high value unexploited resources. Turkana is hot and extremely humid. It experiences very low rainfall and struggles to provide food for both humans and animals. The county is endowed with ample solar energy, hydropower, wind and fossil fuel energy. Over the past few years, the county is beginning to experience a high influx of infrastructural development coupled with the impact of devolution on the local community.

Vegetable garden at Natoot farm

Through the Natoot Farm project, a pillar of hope has been given to tens of households who engage in everyday farming activities. With over 70 farmers, the farm is subdivided into 11 blocks, each holding 7 to 8 farmers. As a model of sustainable agriculture zone, the farm has attracted different cadres of personalities whose contributions have greatly improved the performance of the farm.

The farm has shown a great potential to thrive with crops as watermelons, butternuts, bulb onions, spinach, cowpeas, sugarcanes, bananas, pawpaw trees, which have outperformed in the farm indicating the potential of not only the farmers themselves but also the county to farm its own food crops which can be used for own consumption and commercial purposes. What’s amazing is that an average watermelon weighs approximately between 20 and 30 lbs.

Watermelon garden at Natoot farm

To improve the productivity of the farm, the overall irrigation system can be upgraded leading to
higher yields per acre. Through a partnership between IEEE Smart Village and Bright Hope International, there are plans to upscale the system to provide the farmers with more water to irrigate their crops using an increased solar PV system and storage tanks.

The performance of the farm has motivated the farmers to practice kitchen gardening. Some of the farmers are able to emulate the sustainable practices carried out in the farm and are growing various crops near their households for subsistence and commercial purposes.

Capacity Building

To advance farmers’ skills and expertise as well as their knowledge in farming, the farm has been
conducting frequent training through audio-visual methods. Through these trainings, farmers
have been equipped with knowledge on best practices in crop planting, tending, and marketing, among other skills needed for sustainable agriculture.

To enhance comprehension, the audio-visual materials have been transcribed in the local language which can be well understood by all farmers. Through the training, farmers are now confident of themselves and are able to deliver great results in their daily farm activities.

Turkana women at the Natoot farm

Natoot farm has offered life-changing opportunities for many farmers who wake up every single
day to tend varieties of crops grown within. With improved incomes within farmers’ households, farmers reported reduced conflicts and domestic violence enabling improved peace within families. The overall living conditions have improved, and farmers are able to secure basic needs that previously were challenging to afford.

Turkana County is the second largest of the 47 counties in Kenya by land size covering 68,233 square km (26345 square miles) equivalent to 13% of the total land surface in the country. It is located in northern Kenya, about 700 km (435 miles) from Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya. According to the 2019 census report, the county has a population of 926,976 reflecting an 8.4% growth rate since the 2009 census. It shares borders with three countries: South Sudan to the north, Uganda to the west and Ethiopia to the northeast. The Turkana people are nomadic pastoralists who mainly keep cattle, donkeys, camels and goats. The animals are their main source of food (milk and meat) and wealth.

Igniting Africa construct more Fish Hatcheries with PAC 2020 prize money
Igniting Africa, an organization in Cameroon, continues to provide its community with training at their fish farm school in an effort to sustain their communities.

Led by Ngeh Ernest Bah, the organization runs an integrated tuition free farm school training program. Among other agricultural practices, the farm school has a fish production project as one of its integrated systems to the farm. Due to the dearth of skills in fish husbandry in the community, and a scarcity of catfish in the local market, Igniting Africa has developed a training program that is intended to help train local famers and provide high quality fingerlings to local famers.

With the prize for “Charismatic Delivery” during the Power Arica Conference (PAC) 2020, Ernest extended the fish production project by constructing more catfish hatcheries.

The purpose of this project is to achieve the following:

  1. Create a training center for catfish fingerlings production for local fish famers around the community.
  2. Supply fingerlings to local fish famers at a moderated price.
  3. Supply to the already constructed Igniting Africa farm school fish farm with necessary quantity of fingerlings.
  4. Solve the problems of scarcity of catfish in the market.

Ernest hopes that the project could be extended to four other communities to which the organization is currently supplying solar power (mini grid). He believes the project will solve the problems of scarcity of fish while introducing the local famers to integrating electricity as an agricultural practice for better productivity.

He added that with the availability of additional funding, it is their dream to enable other communities provide improved and sustained livelihoods for themselves.

Focus on student participation at Power Africa Conference 2021
As the countdown begins with less than 100 days to the planned Power Africa conference scheduled for the 23rd through 27th of August 2021, the organizers are dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s to provide the participants with an outstanding conference in line with previous editions. Participation from students is a priority, and competitions for students are part of the conference program.

The IEEE Smart Village Next Generation (ISVx) leadership has introduced the Student Paper Contest with the Title: “Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Africa – Technology, Applications, Benefits and Challenges”. This competition has two categories, the first category is for undergraduate and postgraduate students while the second category is for high school students.

The awards for the student and institution is to support the formation of IEEE ISVx Student Branches (ISVx-SBs) in institutions of learning.

A. Undergraduate and Postgraduate Category
First Place: Student award: $400; Host institution award: $500
Second Place: Student award: $300; Host institution award: $400
Third Place: Student award: $200; Host institution award: $300

B. High School Category
First Place: Student award: $125; Host institution award: $250
Second Place: Student award: $100; Host institution award: $200
Third Place: Student award: $75; Host institution award: $150

Additional details about the competition are available on the official website at https://smartvillage.ieee.org/.

The Conference is at the verge of securing additional resources to support the participation of students. The Africa Working Groups, under the leadership of Vice President Abdullateef Aliyu wrote a proposal to the IEEE Industry Application Society (IAS) and the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) soliciting support for students and the outcome is expected soon. If approved, eligible students will be provided some level of funding support to attend the Conference with reasonable amount of expense taken care of by the ISVx.

The Conference registration fees are now decided, and details about the amount to register is on the website at [provide URL here]. For further inquiry about the conference email or contact info@ieee-powerafrica.org and for sponsorship or partnership you can email partners@ieee-powerafrica.org.

Article contribution by: Vice President Abdullateef Aliyu

Dear Friend,

Each year, IEEE Smart Village co-locates a series of workshops, presentations and roundtable discussions at IEEE’s annual Power Africa Conference (PAC 2021). This year’s virtual event will be held August 23 through August 27, 2021.

Important links you don’t want to miss!



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