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“We need to promote quality research and energy role models so that we attract and train the new generation of energy economists,” says Roula Inglesi-Lotz, Associate Professor, Department of Economics.

Roula Inglesi-Lotz who is also the President of the South African Association for Energy Economics (SAAEE), a supporting association at the upcoming African Utility Week suggests various platforms which can be devised to attract more energy economists.

Responding to a question about the shortage of energy economists, she said: “I would say that economics is a field with so many different sub-fields that indeed most economists follow mainstream fields as monetary and trade economics.

“However, I would say that this fact changes slowly but surely. In my experience, young economists are curious, interested, and sensitive on topics of climate change and energy security and their connection to developmental issues.”

According to her, it is important to develop skills which will be aligned with the needs of the South African economy and the entire African continent in order to assist the African continent develop.

“Regarding the energy field, its multidisciplinary nature is more demanding in the combination of skills needed, how can an energy report be complete if it does not consider engineering or environmental or economic (and many more) aspects?" Roula Inglesi-Lotz noted.

To overcome this shortfall she says awareness programmes, active participation in energy policy discussions, and general open debates on energy issues are some of the platforms that will have energy experts under one roof.

The annual African Utility Week is one of such events, which gathers individuals involved in the energy to discuss pertinent issues in the energy sector. Roula Inglesi-Lotz will part of the discussions in this year’s event.

Collaboration in the energy sector

“We need more collaboration in the energy sector; we need to be able to know what other researchers are busy with; we need to know whom the experts are and how to contact them,” said Roula Inglesi-Lotz.

Hopefully, SAAEE will provide this platform and promote integration amongst the various professions within the energy field while facilitating building of intellectual capacity and exchange of ideas, she concluded.

Read the full interview here.

African Utility Week