Alum returns to Africa, replacing kerosene and candles with solar energy

An Oakland University alumnus is traveling across the African continent, designing, installing and commissioning solar power plants for residential and rural, off-grid areas.

Abdrahamane Traoré was born and raised in Bamako, Mali. Traoré started his doctoral program at OU in fall of 2012 and completed his Ph.D. in Systems Engineering in winter 2018. He is currently working as a Renewable Energy Systems Consultant, traveling across Africa.

“As a little boy growing up in Mali, I had no access to clean, reliable energy,” Traoré said. “Consequently, I used to study under kerosene or candle light to compete with other students who had access to electric lighting.”

Growing up and learning this way gave him the inspiration to pursue the path he is currently on.

“This made me realize that the lack of electricity can have a negative effect on education,” Traoré said. “That is the reason why I have decided to pursue a degree in electrical engineering with a focus on renewable energy to address the power crisis in Africa.”

In 2008, Traoré cofounded June Energy during college at Kettering University to design and develop portable solar energy solutions for people in developing countries. This is where he began his journey to improve lives through clean, safe and affordable energy.

“After a few trips back to Africa, I realized that those small portable solar lights and battery chargers were just a small part of the solution,” Traoré said. “African schools, health centers, SMEs, residents and industries cannot compete with the rest of the world due to no or limited access to reliable electricity.”

These trips to Africa are what prompted Traoré to further the worth that he was beginning.

“Therefore, I decided to work on mid-sized to large-scale hybrid renewable energy power systems that could have greater socio-economic impacts on African communities,” Traoré said.  “Today, I am still implementing solar energy solutions for Africa.”

Traoré began his work with the intention to raise awareness about the dire situation in Africa and come up with a sustainable solution to address the crisis. While his initial goals have been fulfilled, he has plans to further his work.

“I am still working on coming up with optimal energy solutions for Africa, which is the reason why I chose optimization for my dissertation and decided to come back to the continent for the application part of my research,” Traoré said. “I have now acquired more knowledge and a strong support network to help me overcome some challenges.”

Traoré is continuing his work, collaborating with individuals with the same goals and ideas and contributing his skills to bring electricity to Africa to better the educational experience, one that he spent in kerosene and candle light.

“I have returned to Africa from the USA to pursue my vision of ‘solving tomorrow’s problems’ today,” Traoré said. “Education is a key element to moving Africa forward. In Nelson Mandela’s words: ‘education is the greatest liberator of all.’”