Humphrey Fellowship class of 2017-2018

Home country: Nigeria

Current position: Assistant Chief Engineer at National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI)


In 2014, a Center for Global Development report showed that 600 million Africans had no reliable access to electricity. Even urban areas with high electrical grid coverage may experience several hours of blackouts and power outages per day. Solar energy has emerged as a popular alternative source of energy in Nigeria, but the supply of qualified solar installers has proven unable to meet the growing demand. To address this gap and deliver a solar installation training program, Emmanuel led a team from Cornell, Alfred State College (Cornell’s Associate Humphrey Campus), and NASENI.


“Solar electricity is growing very fast, but the activities of fake solar installers in the past marred the integrity of solar energy systems,” said Emmanuel. “There is need to build capacity in solar installation skills at a rate equal or greater than the demand,” Emmanuel said. “If this is not done, it will lead to poorly installed solar systems, which will discourage others from installing solar in the future.”


With Tarig Ahmed, a 2017–18 Cornell Humphrey alumnus from Sudan, and Joseph Abu, a 2019 M.P.A. candidate in the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, Emmanuel was awarded a student summer project grant issued by the Institute for African Development at the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell. The initial proposal was intended to cover training for 20 students, but Emmanuel and his team expanded the program to train 53 students from July 30 to August 10, 2018. Emmanuel acknowledges the key role in the project of Alfred State College’s School of Applied Technology, where he had his Professional Affiliation, because it gave him hands-on experience with solar installations.


The pilot site for the training’s practical activities was Toko Village, a rural community close to Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Since 1938, the village lacked basic infrastructure such as electricity and potable drinking water. Training participants worked with community members to drill a fresh borehole and install a solar water pump to supply water to the community. Fifty-three solar installers were trained.


Monthly monitoring and evaluations indicated that the installation has made a positive impact on the community’s health and water consumption. Trainees from the program have gone on to mentor solar installers in other communities and start up their own solar installation businesses. Emmanuel has been working with Tarig to launch similar programs in Liberia and Sudan.


He was recently promoted to the position of Senior Special Technical Assistant to the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive at NASENI.