On the 10th of February, the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) hosted the third edition of Open Africa Power (OAP), a novel academic training partnership established by the Enel Foundation to empower a new generation of leaders to drive Africa’s energy transition. This is the first time the programme has come to South Africa and involved 61 students from 16 African nations. More than two-fifths of the participants are women, confirming the programme’s focus on geographical as well as gender diversity and providing a concrete demonstration of African women’s emerging role in the clean energy transition.
With Africa’s population expected to more than double by 2050, from 1.2 bln to 2.5 bln, there is an urgent need for investment, regulation and human capital to tackle decarbonization and modernization of power generation, transmission and distribution grids while making sure that the 600 million Africans that still lack access to electricity are not left behind.
Speaking at the Opening Event of the training on February 10th , Emeritus Professor Anton Eberhard, Director of the Power Future Lab at the UCT GSB, said that “to ensure Africa makes concrete progress on its path to a clean energy future and that we deliver on the sustainable development goals, capacity-building projects such as Open Africa Power are crucial”.
Each OAP edition includes a residential training module in a different African country followed by an e-learning module and two weeks’ residential training in Italy. All of which is designed to enhance the participants’ technical, regulatory and business skills needed to work in the private and public sectors towards the electrification of Africa. It offers knowledge on all aspects of sustainable electricity production and distribution to the best and most motivated PhD Master’s and MBA students and alumni. The programme also aims to create a networking platform for participants in order to provide ongoing support and stimulate them to give back to their communities.
“Leaders and managers in the fast-changing energy sector face complex new challenges and require specialised skills and support to navigate this terrain with confidence,” explains Professor Eberhard. “2020 is a crucial year for Africa’s energy security. If we do not act now, we risk being left behind as the world’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources gains momentum. We, therefore, urgently need more African clean energy leaders who understand these shifts and are capable of providing the private and public sectors with the expertise needed to benefit from rather than be disadvantaged by them.”
Partnership with Nelson Mandela Foundation
The Enel and Nelson Mandela Foundations also unveiled a new partnership aimed at dedicating the Open Africa Power 2020 edition to Madiba in recognition of the programme’s contribution to promoting sustainable solutions to critical social problems and therefore reinforcing the vision of a just society, capable of learning from its pasts and listening to all its voices. The partnership also includes the launch of the “OAP Nelson Mandela Award”, to be awarded every year to the best student of the programme based not only on academic merit but also on the student’s social commitments in giving back to the community.
On the sidelines of the opening event, Carlo Papa, Director of Enel Foundation, commented on the partnership:
“We are proud to join forces with Nelson Mandela Foundation as both our organizations recognize education in the clean energy transition has a great potential to accelerate sustainable development in Africa at large and share the view that OAP convenes young leaders on a valuable learning and dialogue process around critical social issues for the just transition.”
Sello Hatang, Chief Executive of Nelson Mandela Foundation, added that “Madiba’s teachings on how to pursue a more just society recognize that sustainable development is as important as freedom in the context of developing nations. And clean energy transition is critical for that vision of development of the African continent, hence our association with Enel Foundation for Open Africa Power”.
The first winner of the “OAP Nelson Mandela Award” will be announced on the occasion of the Mandela Day, celebrated every year on July 18th.
Rolled out in 2018, the first edition of Open Africa Power attracted over 140 applicants from nine African countries while, in 2019, the number of applications grew to more than 400 from 37 different nations. This year’s programme, which took place from 10-14 February in Cape Town, received a record number of applications with more than 750 applications from 41 African countries. The number of South Africans on the programme since its inception, has increased from four in each of the first two editions, to 11 of this year’s 61 participants.
Initiated by the Enel Foundation, in collaboration with implementing partner, Strathmore University from Kenya, Open Africa Power has engaged African universities such as the University of Nairobi (2018) and the University of Addis Ababa from Ethiopia (2019) as host partners for the African training module. In addition, the programme’s Italian training module involves leading Italian institutions such as Politecnico di Torino, Politecnico di Milano, Bocconi University, Florence School of Regulation and Venice International University.
The Power Futures Lab at the UCT Graduate School of Business is a leading centre of excellence and expertise for Africa and other emerging and developing economies. It aims to enhance understanding and build capacity in infrastructure investment, reform and regulation, in support of sustainable development.
Enel Foundation is non-profit organisation focusing on the crucial role of clean energy to ensure a sustainable future for all. By developing partnerships with pre-eminent experts and institution across the globe, leveraging on the vast knowledge of its founders, Enel Foundation conducts research to explore the implications of global challenges in the energy domain and offers education programmes to the benefit of talents in the scientific, business and institutional realms.