The Bridges Project, Somalia

TVET and Higher Education for Boosting Road Infrastructure Development and Growth of Energy Services in Somalia and Somaliland

The project aims to support the Governments of Somalia and Somaliland to enhance inclusive economic growth and reduce poverty by assisting in skill development in two key infrastructure sectors: road construction and energy services. In order to meet fast growing demand for skilled people in these sectors and extreme scarcity of local qualified personnel, the project seeks to upgrade the quality of education in vocational training institutes and universities, and helps them to become more labour market-responsive.

The project is executed in partnership by CARE Netherlands, CARE Somalia, and the TU Eindhoven. The role of TU/e in the project is specifically to assist Somali universities, while CARE concentrates on the vocational education level. The TU/e activities focus on curriculum development and staff training in electrical engineering and renewable energy services at BSc level, and outfitting of lab facilities. Two Somali universities receiving assistance: Somali National University in Mogadishu, the oldest and largest public university in the country; and Gollis University, a younger dynamic private university in Hargeisa in Somaliland. From the side of the TU/e, the project entails close collaboration between the School of Innovation Sciences and the Electrical Energy Systems group of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering.

From a scientific perspective, the project is inspired by literature about domestic technological capability acquisition for development of countries. It is crucial that parties in countries in the Global South build their own absorptive capacities to assimilate new technologies, adapt these to local conditions and – ultimately – create their own technologies and systems. Universities have to play a pivotal role in this process, by producing technically well-qualified graduates and by setting up research & problem-solving collaborations with companies. For the TU/e, a perspective on capability building implies that a facilitative needs driven approach in all project activities is essential. The Somali partners are helped to work out their own priorities and requirements and begin to “own” the project. A top-down technology transfer approach cannot work here.

A needs & capacity assessment was carried out by the TU/e team in 2017 at both universities to assess their existing knowledge, learning materials and laboratory facilities and the priority needs for upgrading these, given the growing demand for skilled engineers in industry and the power sector. This assessment was followed by a training workshop for university lecturers in Nairobi in March 2018. A 1st draft of the envisaged new BSc curriculum was developed in the following months. It was discussed and finalised in a workshop in Hargeisa, Somaliland, in Sept 2018, involving stakeholders from the energy industry and government. It was decided to concentrate the TU/e support on five core courses in the new curriculum, i.e.:

  • Renewable Energy Technologies
  • Decentral Power Generation
  • Power Quality Monitoring and Problem Mitigation, incl Safety
  • Design of Low Voltage Installations
  • Economics of Energy/Electricity Services

A 12 day training workshop was organised at the Mekelle Institute of Technology in Northern Ethiopia in January 2019, which exposed the Somali lecturers to the essential skills and knowledge in these five core subjects, including hands-on laboratory practice. The training was given by seven different trainers associated with the TU Eindhoven with different specialisations. The first new courses started running at the universities in April 2019, with a good number of students (close to 50 at Somali National University, 25 at Gollis University).

The equipment for the power labs is on its way to Somalia and Somaliland, including a variety of specialised measurement devices and equipment and tools for installation of electric equipment and solar energy generation.  Lab installation training and further coaching of the lecturers with their courses on site will be conducted in Hargeisa after the summer of 2019.

Project Partners

  • CARE Netherlands
  • CARE Nairobi
  • CARE Somalia
  • TU/e

total Budget

€ 3.9 m.


Europe Aid (European commision)

Staff involved from the side of TU/e

  • dr Henny Romijn (Innovation Sciences TU/e; contact:
  • Alula Yohannes Tadesse, MSc (associate of Innovation Sciences; alumnus of Electrical Engineering TU/e; and director of VP Electrical Power Systems, Addis Ababa)
  • Prof Sjef Cobben (Electrical Energy Systems group, Electrical Engineering TU/e)
  • Patrick van Schijndel, MSc (Innovation Sciences, TU/e external consultant)
  • Aziiz Sutrisno, MSc (Innovation Sciences TU/e)


Time frame

Dec. 2016 - May 2020