EMPOWER: Volume 1 Issue 2 November 2020

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Posted On: 11.01.2020

President’s Message 
Welcome to the November 2020 ISVx Newsletter. We are approaching the end of 2020 which has been a most unusual year for the entire world. While most of us living in first world countries are being impacted in different ways, those in most of the developing world are seeing horrific consequences from this pandemic. A few weeks back, the Wall Street Journal stated that since the beginning of the pandemic, over 100 million additional people around the world have entered the poverty level where the daily income is less than $1.90 USD per day…

As we enter the year-end holidays, let’s be thankful for the many blessings and opportunities that we have. But let’s also take this opportunity to help those who are less fortunate, living in the dark and most likely not knowing when they will have their next meal. Consider forgoing that next Starbucks latte or some similar purchase and use that money to help support someone in need. While I would like each of you to consider a donation to ISVx, I don’t care where you make your contribution(s) to help those in need. Please keep in mind on your contributions that ISVx is not like your standard charity. Rather than providing a fish to eat, ISVx provides the fishing pole.

On another topic, a question keeps arising on what the “x” means with ISVx rather than the traditional ISV for IEEE Smart Village. The “x” has been added to ISV to reference the reorganization of IEEE Smart Village to “IEEE Smart Village – The Next Generation.” The reorganization has strengthened ISVx through a new governing board consisting of the following twelve societies, one council, two in-country representatives and the IEEE Foundation:

Please note the ISVx does not report to any one society or council in IEEE as commonly thought. ISVx utilizes the IEEE PES staff for IEEE administrative purposes.

For those of you in a society or council not included above, please contact your society or council to encourage them to join ISVx. Finally, if you would like to become more active in ISVx, please contact David Sackey davidsackey.co.uk@gmail.com or me jnelson@neiengineering.com
For those of you in the U.S, enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday. For those elsewhere, take time out to be thankful for what you have.

John P Nelson
President IEEE Smart Village – The Next Generation (ISVx)

The Legacy of Patrick Ryan
In the October Empower Newsletter, we reported the passing of Pat Ryan along with a brief history of Pat’s involvement with the formation of IEEE Smart Village (ISV). ISV lost a great friend, mentor, and supporter of IEEE Smart Village. Alan Ross from the Electric Power Reliability Alliance interviewed Pat in March 2019 where Pat discussed the IEEE Smart Village Initiative. That interview is available here

As a tribute to Pat, Alan’s team put together a short four-minute video where Pat focused on the IEEE Smart Village initiative. This is a remarkable video and truly shows Pat’s commitment to IEEE Smart Village. Please take four minutes to watch this video. Alan starts the video:

In 2019, I had the good fortune of doing a podcast with Pat Ryan, the executive director of the IEEE Power & Energy Society. I did not realize at the time that Pat was ill and dealing with cancer, but that podcast was powerful. In the first 20 minutes we talked about the impact that Pat had on PES. But something happened near the end of that. I asked Pat what his legacy was going to be. If “stewardship” is what we do now, then “legacy” is what others do with what we did now. It passes on from generation to generation.

When Pat spoke about “smart villages,” he lit up. That podcast was especially focused on the passion that Pat had. So, enjoy this excerpt. And, in memoriam of Pat Ryan, let’s all get behind smart villages and make his legacy our stewardship.

Looking for a way to honor Pat’s legacy? Consider making a donation to the IEEE Smart Village Fund of the IEEE Foundation.

2020 IEEE Eric Herz Award Goes to Executive Director of the IEEE Power & Energy Society
Patrick Ryan, executive director of the IEEE Power & Energy Society, was named the recipient of this year’s IEEE Eric Herz Outstanding Staff Member Award. Shortly after being named, the 64-year-old IEEE senior member died from cancer, on 8 September. Ryan was recognized “for leadership in creating a successful model for IEEE and society memberships by fostering member value and partnerships with volunteers.” He had joined the Society in 2007 as its executive director and remained in the position until he died. Related: IEEE SPECTRUM article

IEEE Smart Village Inducts Ray Larsen and Robin Podmore into the “IEEE Smart Village Hall of Honor”
Ray Larsen and Robin Podmore were honored at the Rotary SVSV (Silicon Valley Smart Village) E-Club meeting on 16 November 2020. The theme of the Rotary Meeting was “Ray and Robin Rotarian Roast” for the two co-founders of IEEE Smart Village. The meeting was quite fun and entertaining at the expense of Ray and Robin. At the conclusion of the “Roast,” the announcement was made that both Ray and Robin were inducted into the newly formed IEEE Smart Village Hall of Honor. The initiative within the IEEE Foundation was created in honor of the contributions made by Ray and Robin to ISV. The two co-founders, formed the fund to promote educational opportunities among the ISV entrepreneurs.

ISVx Introduces EMPOWERING 500 MEGA Program
Empowering 500 MEGA (E-500 MEGA) Program plans to bring electricity to 500 million citizens of rural Africa, one village at a time.

The E-500 Mega Pilot program was implemented with REI-c in Cameroon, with a successful ISVx entrepreneur Jude Numfor running the program.

Introduction: Empowering 500 MEGA (E-500 MEGA Program plans to bring electricity to 500 million citizens of rural Africa, one village at a time.

Scope: The E-500M Program intends to electrify rural Africa utilizing the IEEE Smart Village – Next Generation (ISVx) program which requires three important pillars:

  1. Electricity utilizing a self-sustaining renewable energy enterprise to supply electricity,
  2. Education by providing learning opportunities to the village for productive livelihoods, and
  3. Entrepreneurship by providing energy to promote profit producing businesses and reverse rural-urban migration.

Electric Systems: The villages need to take immediate ownership and acceptance of the electric system. Each village will be unique and variations of the implementation of the systems may vary. It is anticipated that a start-up system will first be installed followed by a village power system.

  1. Start-up System is a small and possibly portable ISVx Sunblazer consisting of 2-5 kW power system including PV panels, central battery storage, inverter and portable battery kits. This system will be relatively economical, easy to install and provide the village basic electrical needs.
  2. Village Power System is a larger, centralized system, 10 kW or larger that will distribute power to the village through power lines and interact with the grid when available.

Implementation Plan: Initial funding will be required through low interest loans provided to the energy entrepreneurs. The implementation of this program should be based on phase (1) which will be pilot program of up to five villages. Provided a successful phase (1) along with the lessons learned from that phase, phase (2) will be entered which will expand the program from roughly five to twenty five in order to fully prove the program and limit financial exposure. Upon a successful phase (2), the program will be expanded without limit except based on financing. The program will emphasize women participation and ownership.

  1. Phase (1) will identify five villages for a pilot program. The village elders will be contacted in order to provide support for the program. One or more entrepreneurs will be identified to take ownership of the power station. Each entrepreneur will be required to provide a business plan and provide plans for growing and expanding the business including how the power system will improve educational and business opportunities within the village.
  2. Phase (2) will take the lessons learned from phase (1) and expand into another twenty projects up to twenty five. In addition, this phase will promote the expansion of those start-up systems to full village power systems with possible interconnections to adjacent villages.
    Upon the completion of Phase 2, the program will be expanded as financing becomes available.

Student Participation

One of the goals of the program is to implement an ISVx student chapter in each of the technical university in Africa. This goal will leverage other IEEE Societies who presently have student chapters whereby the new ISVx student chapters could team up with other society’s chapters such as PES (Power & Energy) and IAS (Industry Applications) societies who presently have a presence in many of the technical universities. Each of these student chapters would be encouraged to design and build a mini-Sunblazer.

Implementation Costs

It is anticipated that the energy entrepreneurs will be provided financing for equipment, but labor will be provided by the entrepreneur. Start-up Systems are estimated to require equipment financing in the range of $25,000 USD. Village Power Systems are estimated to cost $50,000 – $200,000 USD.


The benefits include many opportunities for better standard of living, better communications, tele-health opportunities, improvements to educational opportunities, replacement of kerosene with electricity, improved living conditions and reverse rural-urban migration. Furthermore, the leveraging of student participation at the university level will help assure a strong support network in the future along with encouragement for the students to return to their native villages.

Financial Plan

ISVx has historically provided seed money to electrical energy producing entrepreneurs through the IEEE Foundation and IEEE Society support. Due to the goals of E-500 MEGA Program, low interest financing through organizations such as USAID, The World Bank with national government support is proposed. Low interest loans would be provided to the energy entrepreneurs to design, build, operate and maintain the systems with the intent that profits from the projects would be used to repay the loan and provide incentives to expand and inter connect their electric systems.

A Focus on One Successful IEEE Smart Village Energy Entrepreneur
Jude Numfor, Managing Director REI-c, contributed to this article

IEEE Smart Village(ISV) is a unique program within IEEE. ISV provides seed money with the intent to empower people through sustainable energy, expanded educational opportunities and profitable enterprises. The hurdles to receive seed money from ISV for a large (US$200k range) project are significant and only a select few are approved. During its history (see article on page 5), ISV has supported several highly successful entrepreneurs around the world along with many more, smaller projects in the US$25k range. Jude Numfor, Founder (2011) and Managing Director of Renewable Energy Innovators – Cameroon (REI-c) is one of ISV’s most successful energy entrepreneurs.

Jude Numfor was born in March 1986 in the remote, rural village of Mbem located in the mountainous, northwest region of Cameroon. He is the youngest of five boys. His father was a driver and mechanic for the Baptist Mission Health Center in the village and his mother was a subsistence farmer.

Jude is a self-taught, seasoned energy entrepreneur. He completed secondary school with eight ordinary level papers in 2004 and completed high school in 2006 with four advanced level papers. He has become an engineering prodigy in the areas of wireless communications, photovoltaic design and construction, and online educational programs including his most recent innovation, the EdApply App. In Jude’s spare time, he has been
a project consultant and facilitator for Torchbearer Foundation for Missions, Reconciliation and Development (another successful ISVenergy entrepreneur), developed battery pack systems and provided consulting service to other ISV developers in Africa. Jude was just recently appointed to the ISV Governing Board.

Jude’s REI-c company has just received approval for a $1million grant from USTDA (United States Trade and Development Agency) for a feasibility study to investigate the development of electrical systems for up to 134 villages, with possible expansion to another 600+ villages. To be eligible for the USTDA grant, ISV is providing financial and technical support to develop a 10 kW pilot project as part of the plan to electrify 760 villages across five regions in Cameroon. This 10 kW project will be used as a basis for expansion by REI-c into the initial 134 villages, and ultimately into 760 villages. This project will involve a partnership with the United States National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The pilot plant will serve the electrical needs of 3,000 community members who do not have access to the electrical grid which is located 44 km away. Access to electricity will improve quality of life within the community, improving literacy among adults and the monthly baseline income, which is estimated at $100 per family.

The goal will be to leverage this pilot project to ultimately electrify 760 villages with a total of 21 megawatts of electricity for approximately 52,700 potential connections which will transform over 500,000 lives. The overall project involves five phases and the total project cost is estimated at US$100.4 million.

REI’s pioneering Sabongari Power Station (May 2013)

Jude at age 17, president of a German NGO-sponsored “Solar Club,” constructing a solar oven he designed and experimented with in secondary school.

Three Pillars: Electrification, Education, Enterprise Development

Bending Bamboo Project
ON Semiconductor continues to look for new opportunities to address pressing social and environmental issues. With numerous sites across an array of countries, the global company propels to harness these opportunities by collaborating with local communities. A grant awarded by the Global Giving program in 2019 to the IEEE Foundation’s Bending Bamboo program in Vietnam is a key cooperation whose outcomes proved to help support the community on a path towards sustainable development.

Written by Cassandra Savel

Tweet me: @onsemi and @IEEEorg partner to develop the educational workforce in Vietnam, to support teachers of the @FutureGenU while promoting bilingualism and literacy of the @GlobalGoalsUN among youth #ThinkON #SDGs #CSRChampions.

As signatory to the United Nations (UN) Global Compact and a dedicated company committed to helping achieve the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ON Semiconductor continuously looks for new opportunities to address pressing social and environmental issues. With numerous sites across an array of countries, our status as a global company propels us to harness these opportunities by collaborating with local communities. A grant awarded by our Global Giving program in 2019 to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Foundation’s Bending Bamboo program in Vietnam is a key cooperation whose outcomes proved to help support the community on a path towards sustainable development.

Vietnam is one of the top five countries predicted to be most affected by climate change due to its extensive coastlines, where much of its population resides. Knowing this, the Vietnamese government developed a “National Action Plan for the Implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda” to work on mobilizing and educating the country in order to mitigate and adapt to environmental changes. The aim is to have embedded SDG knowledge and skills across school curricula by 2030, in addition to another national goal of Vietnamese-English bilingualism by 2025. Education of future generations is key to supporting ecological resilience, in addition to connecting citizens to global discourse related to climate, migration, rural-urban equity, and health through English language acquisition and problem-solving skills.

The Bending Bamboo program works directly with the community by providing professional development opportunities for teachers in collaboration with Can Tho University, a leading university in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. The ON Semiconductor grant assisted with tuition costs for eleven Master of Arts (M.A.) candidates who are pursuing a degree in Applied Community Development from Future Generations University, a program that equips teachers to be change agents who embed SDG knowledge and skills in bilingual curricula. An important goal of the program is to secure Ministry of Education & Training (MOET) approval to introduce state of the art Bending Bamboo curriculum for public school students in grades 3-12. Applied sustainability skills are also fostered through experiential learning and virtual classroom connections between urban and rural schools in the Delta.

Graduate student Anh Vi expressed how the program influenced her professional development:

“The biggest support I received from Bending Bamboo is the ability to recognize my strength in different situations. I am more confident with my language skills and teaching methods. I have more courage at work to engage people of other cultures, examine sustainability problems, and render good lessons and modeling for my students.”

Well-trained professional educators equipped with the latest teaching skills and knowledge help their students learn vital subjects that benefit not only their own development but also that of their surrounding community. Hundreds of Vietnamese high school teachers in the region attended four 60-hour in-country workshops and several 15-week online Zoom forums hosted by the eleven M. A. candidates and Future Generations University faculty. This cascading effect hopes to reach many more teachers, their students, and their families across rural and urban populations to encourage sustainable development and language skills furthering Vietnam’s collaboration with Southeast Asia and the world.

John Nelson, President of IEEE Smart Village and Life IEEE Fellow, stated:

“IEEE Smart Village supports the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and is proud to be a supporter of the Bending Bamboo Program in Vietnam.”

ON Semiconductor was grateful to assist IEEE Foundation with the Bending Bamboo program’s mission to inspire and prepare educators to act as change agents for sustainable development and bilingualism in Vietnam. Through these transformative learning opportunities, citizens are better prepared to help solve and adapt to global challenges. To quote Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Learn more about the Bending Bamboo program with IEEE in Vietnam here.

To explore how ON Semiconductor Foundation works to give back to communities around the globe, follow this link.

Teachers collaborate at one of eleven workshops hosted by the Bending Bamboo Program at Nam Can Tho University in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Bending Bamboo

Upon completion of their degree, Bending Bamboo graduates celebrate at Commencement, tossing their mortarboards at Vietnams’s first university, the Confucian Temple of Literature in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo courtesy of Bending Bamboo

Sunblazer is a Trailblazer
The concept was first introduced in 2009 by Ray Larsen, an IEEE Life Fellow and member of the Nuclear Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS). With the assistance of the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge (HTC), Ray and Robin Podmore (PES) developed the new Community Solutions Initiative (CSI), the predecessor to ISV. Now in its eleventh year read about the history of the SunBlazer.


Development of a Portable PV Power System

The IEEE Smart Village (ISVx) mission involves three pillars: renewable energy, educational opportunities and empowerment through entrepreneurship. ISV-selected business- development projects must include a business plan that includes all three ISV pillars to receive seed funding. The concept was first introduced in 2009 by Ray Larsen, an IEEE Life Fellow and member of the Nuclear Plasma Sciences Society (NPSS). With the assistance of the IEEE Humanitarian Technology Challenge (HTC), Ray and Robin Podmore (PES) developed the new Community Solutions Initiative (CSI), the predecessor to ISV.

The goal of CSI members, and a few others, was to develop a portable solar-powered system for small, off-grid communities, and in January 2010, Ray’s team began developing the portable power generation system. One week later, the devastating 2010 earthquake hit Haiti and the result was that CSI’s visibility within IEEE was raised by a Haitian IEEE member. In July 2010, a business plan was presented to the Haiti Ministry of Energy, Communication & Public Works. Ray’s team partnered with Russell Engineering in CA and NexTek in Detroit & Long Island, to design a mobile, PV power generation package, the SunBlazer.

In early November 2010, a pilot program was launched with a $125k price tag to place a total of six SunBlazers into Haiti. In the first week of November HTC, through the IEEE Foundation donated $50k and, with Ray’s appeal, the NPSS AdCom awarded the additional $75k to provide total support of the project. Due to IEEE policies all funds needed to be committed and invoiced by December 12, 2010. With unprecedented support from HTC and IEEE Procurement, especially the efforts of Rich Baseil, all contracts for construction and materials were invoiced on time.

Six months later, in May 2011, all six SunBlazers with portable battery kits (PBKs) and 240 home lighting kits were shipped to Haiti.

Shipment of SunBlazer 1

The six SunBlazers arrived in June 2011 each with varying amounts of minor damage. The CSI team with Sirona (the Haiti NGO) staff, made repairs, provided technical and business training to the operators over a two-day period, and then the SunBlazers were deployed to six communities over the following six days. During the next year, nine additional SunBlazers (Pilot II) were deployed, again with major funding from NPSS.


Deployment of Pilot Projects I and II

Today’s IEEE Smart Village program has developed to reach 11 countries, 29 projects and installation of additional SunBlazers. A second chapter on more detailed history of the SunBlazer will follow soon.

Giving Tuesday
Giving Tuesday strives to build a world in which the catalytic power of generosity is at the heart of building the society together, unlocking dignity, opportunity and equity around the globe. Even as everyone is practicing physical distancing the world can remain connected through kindness and generosity. Your support of IEEE Smart Village will close the energy-gap to the world’s most vulnerable energy-poor citizens with reliable access to electricity, educational opportunities and economic development.

Join the IEEE community on this global day of giving by making your donation before Giving Tuesday, 1 December 2020.


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