Enel Foundation, together with the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) as host, inaugurated today the third edition of Open Africa Power (OAP).
The programme will run its first training module from 10 to 14 February 2020, and is aimed at empowering a new generation of leaders to drive Africa’s clean energy transition.
During the inauguration at the newly built Academic Conference Centre of UCT GSB, Enel Foundation and Nelson Mandela Foundation unveiled a new partnership, which will see both organisations working together to increase the impact of OAP training in promoting a more just society in Africa through education.
Open Africa Power, started by the Foundation in 2018, is aimed at sharing information and increasing know-how regarding all aspects of electricity generation, distribution and regulation among participating African PhD, Masters and MBA students and alumni.
In addition, the education programme also aims to empower a new generation of leaders able to contribute to their countries’ clean energy transition and establishes a networking platform for participants to support achievement of SGDs 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 5 (Gender Equality), and 13 (Climate Action).
The partnership announced on the sidelines of the opening of OAP 2020 includes the launch of the Nelson Mandela Foundation OAP Prize, to be granted annually from 2020 onwards by both institutions to the best student of each edition of the programme, based not only on academic merits but also on the student’s social commitments to giving back to the community.
The Nelson Mandela Foundation OAP Prize will further highlight this commitment and the first recipient of the distinction will be announced on Mandela Day, celebrated every year on July 18th.
The 2020 edition of Open Africa Power was also dedicated to Madiba in recognition of the programme’s promotion of sustainable solutions to critical social problems and its contribution to the vision of a just society, capable of learning from its past and listening to all its members.
Carlo Papa, Director of Enel Foundation, said: “We are proud to join forces with Nelson Mandela Foundation as both our organisations recognise that education in the clean energy transition has a great potential to accelerate sustainable development in Africa at large, and share the view that Open Africa Power convenes young leaders on a valuable learning and dialogue process around critical social issues for the just transition.”
Sello Hatang, CEO of Nelson Mandela Foundation said: “Madiba’s teachings on how to pursue a more just society recognise that sustainable development is as important as freedom in the context of developing nations. And a clean energy transition is critical for that vision of development of the African continent, hence our association with Enel Foundation for Open Africa Power.”
Held in South Africa for the first time, after past editions in Kenya and Ethiopia, OAP 2020 involves a record number of 61 students from 16 African nations. More than two-fifths of the participants are women, confirming the initiative’s focus on international as well as gender diversity, and providing a concrete demonstration of African women’s emerging role in the clean energy transition.
Each edition of OAP includes a residential training module in a different African country followed by an e-learning module followed by two weeks of residential training in Italy, all designed to enhance the participants’ technical, regulatory and business skills needed to work in the private and public sectors towards the electrification of Africa.
Open Africa Power: Articulated training programme
With Africa’s population expected to more than double by 2050, going from 1.2 to 2.5 billion, there is an urgent need for investments, regulation and human capital to address decarbonisation and modernisation 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.
Anton Eberhard, Emeritus Professor and Director of the Power Future Lab at the UCT GSB, who was the opening lecturer of the training, said: “2020 is a crucial year for Africa’s energy security. If we don’t 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.”
During the week, participants will learn about the state-of-the-art technologies and areas within the energy sector with training by local and international academic leaders from the UCT faculty and by senior industrial and institutional experts.
In addition to Enel Foundation researchers and Enel Group experts, including Enel Green Power South Africa Country Manager Bill Price, speakers from the African Development Bank, International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) will join the programme.
Enel Foundation and the Embassy of Italy in South Africa will also host a networking event celebrating the contribution of this initiative for international academic cooperation and promotion of sustainable development across Africa.
Partner universities for the training since its inception include Strathmore University from Kenya (implementing partner), University of Nairobi (hosting partner 2018) and the University of Addis Ababa from Ethiopia (hosting partner 2019).
Additionally, 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.
OAP 2020 was also supported by BeeZ Social ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) an African start-up that designed the online platform used to screen and select candidates, as well as connect the OAP alumni community, which now includes around 150 leaders.
Honourable Nelson Mandela, former South African President, at the launch of final report of World Commission on Dams, once said: “Taking responsibility is not a question of principle, but of survival. In developing nations, like mine, we know that political freedom is priceless; it is worth risking one’s life for.
“But freedom alone is still not enough if you lack clean water. Freedom alone is not enough without light to read books at night, without time or access to water to irrigate your farm, without the ability to catch fish to feed your family. For this reason, the struggle for sustainable development nearly equals the struggle for political freedom. They can grow together, or they can unravel each other.”