Intern profile: Roselyne Kamau

by Sara Weissel

Roselyne Kamau in front of solar panelsRoselyne “Rose” Kamau from Kikuyu, Kiambu County, Kenya, is currently an intern at the Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation, researching Agrivoltaics under the supervision of Dr. Tali Zohar. Agrivoltaics is an agriculture technique that makes use of the same land for both solar panels and farming: Rose is currently focused on understanding the effects of shade from solar panels on the growth of sweet potatoes. Luckily for the entire campus community the project is going very well – just last week several kilos of Rose’s sweet potatoes were harvested for all to enjoy! 

After graduating from the University of Nairobi with a degree in Agriculture Education and Extension, Rose began an internship in 2021 which first introduced her to agrivoltaics. “I was so interested in it. I had never seen before such a way of bringing energy and agriculture together.” During her internship, Dr. Zohar traveled to Kenya alongside Hani Arnon, the then Director of the Arava International Center for Agriculture Training (AICAT), and toured Rose’s project to learn about how the agrivoltaics were benefiting the local community, and if its success could be replicated. 

Roselyne and a fellow participant harvesting sweet potatoes“They were excited about how I presented the project, and the success it had achieved, and so Hani asked if I wanted to come to Israel and join the AICAT programme.”  

During the AICAT program , participants attended classes one day a week, and spent four days on a specific project in the field. During Rose’s research, which was conducted at the Arava Institute, Dr. Zohar encouraged her to enroll at the Institute full-time. “Tali is the best. First of all, she is a good teacher – but she also has really helped me learn how to work. Being patient, giving yourself time to think, and being your own boss are all things I’ve learned from Tali.” 

Before starting her internship this semester, Rose participated in last semester’s program as a student. “This semester, because of the ongoing war, is clearly different then others,” she shares. “I’m able to be here as an international student, but people from the West Bank and Gaza are not. It reminds me of when Kenyans couldn’t go somewhere in their own country during colonialism because of the British people living there.”   

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