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Energy Training in South Africa celebrates legacy of Nelson Mandela


Cape Town, February 10th, 2020

The University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB) played host to the opening training module of the third edition of Open Africa Power (OAP), a novel academic partnership started by Enel Foundation to empower a new generation of leaders to drive Africa’s energy transition.

Held in South Africa for the first time after visiting Kenya and Ethiopia, OAP 2020 involves a record number of 61 students from 16 African nations. More than two-fifths of the participants to the training from February 10-14th were 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.

During the inauguration of the programme at the newly built Academic Conference Centre of UCT GSB on February 10, Enel Foundation and Nelson Mandela Foundation also unveiled their new partnership. The 2020 edition of Open Africa Power was dedicated to Madiba in recognition of the program’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 voices. The partnership also includes the launch of the “Nelson Mandela Foundation OAP Prize”, granted every year by both institutions to the best student of the program based not only on academic merits but also on the student’s social commitments in giving back to the community.

Carlo Papa, Director of Enel Foundation, commented the partnership saying: “We are proud to join forces with Nelson Mandela Foundation as both our organizations recognize that 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, CEO of Nelson Mandela Foundation said, “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 “Nelson Mandela Foundation OAP Prize” will further highlight this commitment and the first recipient of the distinction will be announced on the occasion of the Mandela Day, celebrated every year on July 18.

Anton Eberhard, Emeritus Professor and Director of the Power Future Lab at the UCT GSB, was the opening lecturer of the training and welcomed participants commenting, “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 were trained on the state of the art of the energy sector by local and international academic leaders from the UCT faculty (Wikus Kruger, Research Fellow, Power Futures Lab, GSB; Mikael Samuelsson, Associate Professor, GSB) and by Senior Experts from the industrial, institutional as well as academic realms. Among them, Enel Green Power South Africa Country Manager, Bill Price; the Head of Division, Renewable Energy from the African Development Bank, João S. Cunha; or Prof. Izael Da Silva, DVC Research & Innovation, Strathmore University.

In addition to Enel Foundation researchers, Enel Group experts such as Giovanni Tula, Head of Sustainability, Enel Global Generation; Manuel De Tellechea Suarez, Sustainability Projects Development, Enel Global Infrastructure and Networks; Manuel Alonso Fernández, Low Carbon and Energy Policies - Europe and Euro-Mediterranean Affairs; Manuele Battisti, Business Develop Manager Southern Africa, Enel Green Power; Nontokozo Nkosi, Head of Commercial Office South Africa, Enel Green Power, delivered presentations as well.

The International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) joined the program for the first time as OAP Institutional supporter and Bruno Merven, Senior Researcher in UCT Energy Systems Research Group and IRENA Energy Modelling Consultant, lectured at the training.

During the week, Enel Foundation and the Embassy of Italy in South Africa hosted 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 include Strathmore University from Kenya (implementing partner), University of Nairobi (hosting partner 2018) and the University of Addis Ababa from Ethiopia (hosting partner 2019). In addition, the program’s Italian training module involves leading Italian institutions such as Politecnico di TorinoPolitecnico di MilanoBocconi UniversityFlorence School of Regulation and Venice International University.

Open Africa Power 2020 was also supported by an African ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Software start-up who designed the on-line application platform that was used to seamlessly screen and select the OAP 2020 candidates. The communication product from BeeZ Social ERP will also be used to connect the OAP alumni community which will reach almost 150 leaders at the end of the third edition. Thanks to the use of this digital platform, Enel Foundation successfully collected and screened more than 750 applications from 41 African countries for OAP 2020 edition.


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