Since April 2017 Josephine Kantan works as solar operator at Phebe Hospital in Bong county, Liberia. She also continues to be in charge of the Diesel generator there. Josephine Kantan visited the recent EnDev workshop series for solar experts at the GIZ Health Project in Congo Town from the 27.03.2018-29.03.2018. The Renewables-Liberia Team used the opportunity to do an interview with her as she is one of a few women working in the power sector of Liberia.
Renewables-Liberia: There are only few women in Liberia working in the power sector and in the field of technology, so how did it come that you perused a career in this area?
Josephine Kantan: “For me, I had an interest ever since I was in Ivory Coast during the civil war. I saw those girls in the technical school and in particular one girl who was a mechanic. She impressed me with her work and invited me for the graduation ceremony of the school and when I went there I was like wow: I want to do the same - I really wanted to become a mechanic.”
Renewables-Liberia: The technical field in Liberia is still dominated by males. So, how did you get into this area?
Josephine Kantan: “When I came back to Liberia and left the refugee life behind me, I decided to do something with my hands. I got into contact with the an USAID sponsored NGO and got educated under them as a mechanic for 2 years. When I finished this program I went to Gtech, a technical school in Gbarnga, Bong County. They further educated me as a generator operator and maintenance technician. At the same time I made my first experiences in working in the field and did practical trainings.”
Renewables-Liberia: You are well educated. How have you finally found your job at Phebe Hospital? Probably it is still hard to break down gender barriers to get there where you are now…
Josephine Kantan: “After my education I continued with practical trainings which brought me to Phebe Hospital. I got a contract for one year and after this time period my boss was very satisfied with my work and I got fully employed as the generator operator. I am working at Phebe Hospital now for around ten years and today I have the position as the technical supervisor. Below me, there are 5 male technicians working and I coordinate them and make sure that the hospital has electricity 24 hours every day. For this purpose we maintain and monitor the generator and the solar system.”
Renewables-Liberia: Tell us about the solar system at Phebe Hospital which was installed in April 2017. What has changed through the system?
Josephine Kantan: “The Rural renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) set up the project PV for Phebe. They together with the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (WELCA) run the project and organised the installation of the solar system which is basically a solar microgrid. This project gave me the opportunity to go to the states for a two week solar workshop which prepared me to operate the solar system. However, I am not alone in monitoring and maintaining the system. In the states and in Germany two solar experts are monitoring the performance of the system as well and contact me when they recognize a problem. The overall aim of the solar system was to save fuel and money and we definitely do save a lot of money through the solar system now! We did a calculation before we got the system: We were burning around 5 gallons of fuel per hour. With the solar system we reduced the fuel consumption to around 3 gallons per hour.”
Renewables-Liberia: Thank you for your time!