August 16, 2023 2 min read

In 2016, NNU (Northwest Nazarene University) initiated a partnership with Inergy, resulting in the Liberia, Africa Laptop pilot project. This initiative showcased a sustainable off-grid power solution employing an Inergy Kodiak recharging/distribution box, solar panels, deep cycle batteries, and a stationary bicycle linked to a used car alternator. This setup generated and stored DC power, enabling the recharging of 20 laptops via both solar and human pedal power.

Years later, Dr. Wilson Kamau and his wife Rebecca established the non-profit toEnable ( with a mission to provide basic human needs and education to the Empash village in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2019, Dr. Kamau engaged NNU, his alma mater, to collaborate on designing a modular classroom structure for remote areas like Empash. Alongside this effort, a student engineering team at NNU was tasked with designing a 10kWh per day off-grid solar power system, akin to the Liberia Project, for the new school.

In seeking a solution, Dr. Stephen Parke, NNU Engineering Professor and IEEE EDS Humanitarian Council member, reached out to Inergy once more. The aim was to create an off-grid solar generator solution capable of charging devices, powering LED lights, and facilitating a unique off-grid, off-internet classroom learning system known as SmartBox. The Flex 1500 modular solar generator emerged as the solution of choice, and in collaboration with Inergy during the Summer of 2022, Dr. Parke's engineering students prototyped, refined, and analyzed the proposed solution.

The project secured funding through support from the IEEE EDS Humanitarian Council and other backers. In October 2021, Dr. Parke, the NNU student team, Dr. Kamau, and the toEnable team journeyed to Empash, installing and training teachers on the Inergy solar-powered generator and SmartBox system within the newly constructed Empash School. Read the detailed article by IEEE Electron Devices Society - on pages 60-62.

The project's conclusion marked the inauguration of a modern primary school, celebrated by the entire village and school children. The Empash School now hosts 66 students, with 100 more eagerly awaiting enrollment. Inergy takes pride in its contribution to this transformative off-grid education initiative.


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