Created in 2008 from the will expressed by scientists considering that research should be at the service of development, CasamanSun conference exists thanks to the important commitment of the University of Ziguinchor and our association Casamanscience.
Just like an African continent in full bloom, all different but all together and all in the service of the same shared vision, CasamanSun reflects diversity, innovation and a willingness to change things with the common denominator: the desire to act for a better society and improve the lives of local people.
CasamanSun is a “Glocal” project, in other words “think global and act local” or rather “to help my neighbor while changing the world”. We are convinced that Africa is also the best show-case for achieving “glocal” economic development, sustainable and inclusive.
In 2008, the main motivation for renewable energies (RE) was a price per barrel above $ 100. At this time many non-oil countries, such as Senegal, suffered terribly from this energy deficit in their trade balance.
REs were then an alternative to fossil fuels but the sector suffers from a bad reputation due to multiple factors: poor quality of facilities, difficulties in finding financing or bank loans and lack of legislative or tax incentive frameworks.
The 1st CasamanSun was able to connect various public and private actors, senior departmental staff, students, researchers and entrepreneurs. The inventory is done and the machine is put in place
In 2010, collaborations were set up between different UEMOA or European universities. Student exchanges take place and PhD theses between universities are carried out. Students no longer suffer from uprooting, teach their skills and take advantage of scientific instruments needed to fulfill the quality criteria required for international recognition of their thesis work. But the better-off universities also benefit from access to topics and data that until now have been little studied. Winner-Winner? No one knows but solidarity and new, for sure!
Thus in 2012, the first silicon nanowires for photovoltaic applications are “made in Senegal” but also the first scraps of organic electronics. Environmental papers are emerging. Issues of valorization of the biomass, the management of the halieutic resources or the social dimension that an innovation must consider are highlighted…
In addition, technicians or students are looking for a job or an internship application but it is very difficult. Many companies have been created but the economic fabric is fragile or even artisanal. Besides, we take this opportunity to acknowledge the firms which have supported us. Many thanks to Lorentz which participates to all the editions of the conference since 2010.
In 2014, “smart” technologies appear. These connected networks of solar panels are the subject of in-depth studies and several simulations. We are doing numerical simulations because of the scarcity of scientific equipment, but despite these financial difficulties, we are investigating, troubleshooting, we are doing science …
On the environment side, the impact of air quality on the health and performance of solar panels is studied. In fact, the dust during the dry season – where sunshine is optimal – kill the photovoltaic yield by diffusing the sunlight. Also the quality of the indoor air is strongly degraded by the coal stoves.
Thermal insulation is a topic that is increasingly studied. Casamance clay is scrutinized very attentively: under optical or electronic microscopy. These properties are more and more popular not only for applications in civil engineering but also in electronics. Then who knew that Kapok wool (cottony flower from the Kapok tree) is also a very good thermal insulator? This is the kind of information that can be learned at CasamanSun. It is a valorization of the local flora and also a recognition of the importance of the biodiversity. Like this study done by the University of Ziguinchor on the medicinal plants used in traditional medicine which has been able to verify thanks to a strong and rigorous scientific expertise the proven benefits of some local medicinal plants!! Thus, through Casamansun, new natural and sustainable resources have been put in spotlight.
In 2016, the management of hybrid systems (wind and solar) is optimized thanks to homemade designs of regulators. NGOs also benefit from the expertise of the scientific attendees. Researchers benefit from feedback from NGOs on the ground. We discuss, inquire, exchange the calling/business cards and we invite each other for a visit on the ground! CasamanSun aims to connect the actors of the same domain to accelerate the transfer of technologies !!
Students participate in the organization of the conference. Some student-researchers make their 1st lecture. The presentations are very good. Few speakers stress, others speak with ease but all dread the moment of questions. Ziguinchor’s undergraduate students are in exams but still, they come to attend the presentations. They take this opportunity to deepen their course, look for an internship or start a professional network. But the professional integration is difficult. The public sector is the only recruiter and the competition is tough. Major projects are announced but their achievements are delayed because of the difficulty of obtaining funding. Some students ask questions about their orientation or even why they are studying in this economic climate that is not conducive to long-term studies. But they will be able to see with their own eyes what researchers do in their institutions and what is done elsewhere. It is on this point that our project will now focus on partnerships with vocational training centers and entrepreneurs.
In 2016, success is on the cards. The level of the conference has improved and is equivalent to national conferences in France on these topics and there is a demand to organize a conference every year. We accelerate the pace.
It is the University of Saint Louis that takes over in 2017 to successfully carry out the COAER (West African Renewable Energies Conference).
Once again, a big thank you to our colleagues from Gaston Berger University who, despite the short notice, were able to successfully complete this conference.
In 2018, what will change?
First and foremost, the socio-economic context of Senegal is very different. We are talking offshore oil off Senegal and the resources are non-negligible but the price of a barrel dropped sharply, to $ 50 the lowest since 2005. Phosphate is no longer the only possibility of mining rent. New mineral resources are also being updated. There is Zircon, a semi-precious stone whose properties are mainly used for the nuclear industry or electronics. However, the question of the sustainable management of these resources and especially of the impact on the environment is the subject of lively debate on the part of the local populations and the tourism sector, they are all afraid of both a denaturation their living environment and also the creation of troubles or conflicts.
After energy, there is also the boom of start-ups especially in the field of FinTech – technologies that revolutionize the financial industry – or collective management via smartphone apps.
One might think that RE is left behind but it’s the opposite. The price of solar panels is at the lowest and becomes ultra-competitive. Smart grids are growing everywhere and helping to increase the rate of rural electrification. Financial viability is proven and the sector is booming.
The Internet of Things (IoT) represents the 4th industrial revolution that begins. These connected objects will be able to help us to better rationalize and better optimize our energy consumption. However, they remain objects that consume energy. Which side will the scale swing? The storage of gigantic databases, their management by increasingly powerful algorithms, the advent of artificial intelligence, Fintech as a payment solution, e-health … all this will still require a lot of energy cheaper.
So we see that the issue of renewable energy will be even more under focus for a long time, a very long time …