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Our future lies in the energy of youth

“In 30 years, Africa will be the youngest continent in the world, so the youth of today have to be aware of the energy issues and take action to be the leaders that the world will need tomorrow,” says Astria Fataki, the Founder and President of Energy Generation and the winner of this year’s Outstanding Contribution Award: Young Leader at the African Power, Energy & Water Industry Awards.

Astria Fataki pictured with Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl, Editor of ESI Africa

These wise words were uttered by Fataki at the awards gala dinner that took place during African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa in May.

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Issue 3-2019.
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“The future of every nation on every continent is linked to its energy sovereignty,” she said, adding: “The new and next generation of young Africans need to be aware of that and really be part of the energy transition. For Africa of course, but also for the entire world because we speak in terms of continents, but at the end of the day, we are all part of and live on this same little blue planet. I think that for many reasons the continent has a very important role to play, but we would not be able to bring all the value possible to the world if the youngest are not involved.”

Fataki, who is originally from Congo, is an entrepreneur passionate about project development in Africa. She truly believes that energy is at the centre of socio-economic development, and fully dedicates herself to tackle this challenge both at the micro and the macro level in Africa.

At a macro level, this young entrepreneur coordinated, from 2013 to 2015, the contractual and legal construction of two Public-Private Partnership projects for the construction and operation of solar PV power plants in Mali (40MW) and Chad (60MW). At the micro level, in 2016, she founded the pan-African organisation Energy Generation, with the objective to develop young Africans’ entrepreneurial initiatives in the energy sector.

Initiate! 2020 – get involved

During the first Initiate! Impact Challenge to take place at African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa, in Cape Town in May, a team of students from Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya won ZAR20,000 in prize money for an innovative concept to provide equitable energy access to remote villages based on, among others, “Uber(ising)” solar energy.

“The launch of the Initiate! programme in Africa has been truly rewarding. The next generation of talent that is coming into this sector is giving me hope for the future,” says Sietske Jacobs, who calls herself a smart energy enthusiast and is the current Project Manager for Initiate!, a platform for students and start-ups to drive innovation and share ideas for the energy sector.

The Uber(ising) team’s idea is to put solar panelled containers in rural villages that will also house a clinic, a shop for essentials such as milk, a battery charging facility and a knowledge hub to teach people about the use and benefits of solar energy. As the business grows, villagers in remote areas will be able to order charged batteries via their phones, which will then be delivered by solar powered tricycles.

Student teams from Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand also took part in the three-day challenge. According to Jacobs, creating an environment where entrepreneurs have access to markets and a supportive eco-system is pivotal to the future opportunities for the next generation of tech and talent and the development of the sector.

“With the Initiate! programme for 2020 we strive to launch a platform enabling the eco-system to connect to collectively accelerate the energy transition. We call on the industry and professionals working in the sector to get involved, pay it forward and help us create the environment for the next generation to thrive. The first step in doing so is to launch a taskforce with industry experts ranging from accelerators, universities, utilities and corporates to jointly define a roadmap,” she said. ESI

If you or your company would like to get involved in Initiate! 2020 at next year’s edition of African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa, please contact Maxime Delafoy at maxime.delafoy@spintelligent.com