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Open Africa Power, told by the 2022 students

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Initiated by Enel Foundation in 2018, and in partnership with SEforALL from the 2022 edition, Open Africa Power is an education venture designed to equip a new generation of energy leaders with a holistic knowhow of the electricity sector so to accelerate the African transition towards a clean energy future. 

Below are some of the thoughts of the students on the program. 

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Malek Mhamdi, Renewable Energy Engineer, Tunisia:

“The main reason why I decided to participate at OAP was my interest in sustainable development and climate change advocacy. I learned about global warming and climate change when I was in high school. At that time, I thought that scientists and experts were going to solve those issues soon, but the situation has only been getting worse. It was later that I understood that it’s not only the experts’ job, but we are all responsible, and should therefore be involved in taking actions to sustain our lives: to meet our needs without compromising future generations’. As the quote says: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our descendants”. 

The OAP program is the right opportunity to help me acquire new skills and network with experts and fellows in several fields: electricity, renewable energies, sustainable development, and many more. It was an immense pleasure to get trained by professionals from reputable companies and universities like Enel Foundation, Sustainable Energy for All, the Cape Town Graduate School of Business, Florence School of Regulation… They were all very welcoming and open to exchange views with all participants. They opened my eyes not only to the problems that Africa and the world are facing but also on the possible alternatives and perspectives we could tackle for a better future. 

Besides, OAP offered me the opportunity to meet new people from my continent and get in touch with them. I even discovered new areas that I hadn’t heard about before. I am optimistic about the added values that the cohort will provide and the horizons that it will open up.”

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Awa Diene, Finance Officer, Senegal:

“Being very optimistic about the progressive development of African States through renewable and sustainable energy, I enrolled in the OAP 2022 cohort to learn more about renewable and sustainable energy as well as the best energy policies. The Enel Foundation is known today for its creativity in the field of renewable energies and also for its numerous achievements throughout the world. Open Africa Power has the brilliant idea of training young Africans on the challenges and opportunities that nature has given us and that we can use to develop ourselves.

So far the courses are going well, we have very good teachers and also professionals from the energy sector who accompany us. The cohort has spaces for dialogue, to exchange ideas and collaborate to do research always with the aim of contributing to change and bringing progress to our respective countries.

I am convinced that my participation in this year’s cohort will allow me to have the necessary skills to integrate myself even more into the energy sector and contribute directly or indirectly to Senegal’s initiatives, as well as everywhere else across Africa and around the world. Thanks to the training, I am very motivated to think about future, reliable and renewable electrification projects in order to fight global warming and help my country in the process of achieving SDG7.

I am all the more motivated to support women in disadvantaged and isolated areas but also to raise their awareness on the transition to cleaner cooking in order to achieve total decarbonation in the years to come.

I reiterate my thanks to the Enel Foundation and SEforAll for offering us this training and I wish us good luck. Together for a brighter Africa.”

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Oshoveli Kukuri, Financial Assistant, South Africa:

“OAP has given me a platform that is rare and enriching. Each session is filled with technical knowhow that challenges one’s understanding in new and familiar areas. The flexibility of interaction between the presenters and cohorts encourages one to look forward to asking questions. The hunger of the participants to gain insight into Africa’s energy challenges motivates one to dig deep and try to understand how best to envision a different Africa for the wellbeing of future generations. The communication platform is a blessing and I look forward to using it in the best way I can each week. Long last relationships that can touch and impact the lives of people can humbly start on this communication platform between cohorts.”

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Ibrahim Walaman, Solar Systems Engineer, Ghana:

“I enrolled in the OAP programme to equip myself as a young energy professional with a complete set of technical, regulatory, and business skills to trigger Africa’s sustainable energy future. I aim to benefit from the series of professional development and leadership activities that the program offers to gain holistic know-how of Africa’s electricity sector by exploring the fundamentals of such sector under the lens of sustainable development. Specifically, I aim to expand my knowledge of renewable energy technologies, regulation, and economics. I also seek to refine my expertise in the digitalization of the electricity industry. I vehemently believe the OAP program is the ideal platform for me to achieve these goals. I am excited to be among the 2022 cohort, and I am looking forward to spearheading Africa’s clean energy future.”

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Tena Abebaw, Company Manager, Ethiopia: 

“When I signed up for OAP22, I was just thinking of achieving more than a course, such as:

• Expanding my sector of employment and increasing my opportunities for advancement

• Obtaining anything novel in the field of global energy development

• Keeping up with the most recent developments in the new energy movement

• Gaining access to other people's knowledge and perspectives and to form alliances with other international training participants.

As a business owner and manager in the energy industry, I feel that this training will help my company to achieve its goals through creating value. The OAP program provides a wonderful chance for third-world nations to benefit from the global energy industry by providing comprehensive training and sharing expertise on sustainable energy. It is quite feasible to accomplish the SDGs in the year 2050 worldwide. And I'd like to express my gratitude to OAP22 and Enel Foundation for selecting me for this fantastic chance to contribute to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals objective.”

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Jean Paul Sibomana, Energy Policy Analyst, Rwanda: 

“I enrolled in OAP22 as soon as I learnt that it’s an educational platform to sharpen and equip young energy leaders with what’s necessary to accelerate the African transition towards a clean energy future. Luckily, my application was successful. I got to meet great expert professors and great minds across the globe with similar interests.

So far, I have learnt a lot from different forum discussions concerning the trends and challenges of the African power sector, the monopoly agenda and the liberalization of electricity, with case studies on where it has worked. The journey is quite intriguing and I have great hopes on how it going to pan out. I believe all the insights I keep acquiring during this edition will help me grow in my professional career and strengthen my contribution to the firm I work at and my community. I am hopeful that the OAP22 program will better me as Energy Policy Analyst, supporting me in becoming an active contributor to the African energy transition movement.”

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Robert Njoroge, Senior Standards Engineer, Kenya

“The motive behind my OAP22 application stemmed from my interest in promoting energy access in Sub Saharan Africa and the achievement of SDG7. Working in the energy standardization sector in Kenya, I have learnt the great impact energy access has on the societal development, hence my interest in promoting it.

From the program I have already learnt key issues such as policy, regulation and finance that aid the promotion of energy access. These lessons have come by the tutors as well as by other fellow students, all from diverse educational backgrounds. This has been key in enabling me to address energy access from a perspective that is different from my typical engineering one. I’m sure this experience will widen my knowledge especially in energy economics in order to significantly contribute to SDG7 from different points of view. In addition, I hope to further expand my network through interaction with other course mates from different parts of Africa so that we can work together and ensure total access in the continent.

I eventually hope to gain skills and knowledge and be a future leader in energy matters in Africa. This of course aimed at ensuring affordable and clean energy to all.”

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Zita Ohikere, Business Development Specialist, Nigeria: 

“I am ecstatic about the opportunity to learn alongside participants and expert facilitators from across Africa and the world. As someone who grew up without consistent power and access to alternative clean energy, I understand first-hand the impact that effectively implementing the SDG goals could have across Africa.

As a business planning associate working with a Minigrid developer, I believe the Modules would train me to ensure sustainability throughout the value chain and that the SDG targets are effectively implemented, from the head office down to our communities. 

Also, learning more about the trends and challenges in the power sector would play a vital role in guaranteeing a longer-term impact in some of my ongoing work projects, including a clean cooking initiative across our sites.

We have a shared purpose to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and I believe learning and working together, sharing experiences from our different countries, and adopting a more holistic mentality would better prepare me, and other participants, to properly shift from green to sustainable energy. 

I am hopeful that this practical and esteemed program would bring me one step closer to becoming an active, sustainable, and innovative contributor in Africa’s nascent climate change movement.”

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SOKOYEBOM ALABI, Power Utility Engineer, Nigeria:                                                        

“I enrolled for the OAP 2022 cohort because I wanted to learn more about the energy sector and how we can drive sustainability and ensure access to energy that is affordable and reliable for all, first in my country Nigeria, and then in Africa and in the world. I believed it would grant me a great opportunity to increase my knowledge and skills, learn and interact with colleagues from other countries and also grow my network.

So far, we have had classes on two days in two weeks and it has been mind-blowing, and I would love to share few learning points.

I have always thought that Renewable Energy was the answer to sustainable energy access. However, I have learnt something different. Carlo Ferrara opened my eyes to the fact that renewable does not mean sustainable. From Georgia Scaffardi, I learnt about Sustainable Power plant and from Quadri Suelen that an Independent Power Plant (IPP) can and should create economic development throughout its lifetime. Wikus Kruger let me understand the complexity that arises with the increase in renewable energy investments; thankfully there are evolving technologies to manage these complexities. Yes, energy cannot be created nor destroyed according to the law of thermodynamics but from William G. Price I learnt that renewable energy not used today is lost forever. Imagine if it was possible to quantify the value of energy that has been lost in Nigeria?

It wasn’t all just about energy and SDGs, but with Professor Izael Da Silva I learnt how to become an effective leader, work for ME limited and understand that I am only qualified to work with others if and only if I work with myself.

I look forward to more interaction with my colleagues on the platform, knowledge sharing and more explosive insights into the energy sector.”

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Esubalew Melaku, Lecturer, Ethiopia:

“First and foremost, I was eager to apply to the Enel Foundation because this foundation is known for its creativity on renewable energy around the world. This training helps me to pursue the mission of enabling sustainable environments for renewable energy and investing reliable energy in Africa. I am excited about furthering my knowledge in renewable energy in Ethiopia to facilitate the exploration and development of geothermal resources and contribution of mixed energy plan of the country. I am also very motivated in the study of other renewable resources in Ethiopia. I am also very motivated in the study of other renewable resources in Ethiopia. In order to tackle climate change, I want to take this training move jointly, as no stand-alone action will have an effective impact. I’m passionate about this training because Open Africa Power is aimed at reaching young minds, young people and mostly women, and it provides everybody the opportunity to learn about energy and power. One more reason to participate to the training offered by Enel Foundation is to connect with other people that work in the sector, which is an exceptional opportunity to share my experience in the power sector in Ethiopia and exchange ideas.”

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Omnia Ali, Chemical engineer/MBA holder from University of Khartoum:

“I am very optimistic about the energy transition of Africa in the coming ten years. In March 2022 I joined the online program of Micro Grid Academy where Enel Foundation was one of the implementing partners - it was a great opportunity to be around people who share the same interests and enthusiasm about Renewable Energy, through which I came across the Open Africa Power program. And now I am very excited to join OAP22 and continue this journey, I believe OAP program will provide me with the theoretical knowledge plus the exposure to a huge network of professionals from different countries that will give me the boost to start a career in the energy sector and be a part of the change I would like to see in Sudan and Africa. 

Once, a great man said that women are more capable to pull themselves and families out of poverty. As a woman and an engineer I see the potentials we have in Sudan and my ultimate goal is to provide a clean and affordable source of energy to the people in my society and country to pull them out of poverty. Although Sudan is one of the richest zones of solar energy, almost 50% of its population have no access to electricity and the remaining suffer from daily cut offs and blackouts for excessive periods up to 12 hours per day in summer. Hence, projects in the energy sector are essential to raise the living standards and achieve SDG7 SDG1.”

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Nigel Mudekwa, Fleet Management Technician, Zimbabwe:

“One of the main reasons why I joined OAP was that I was looking for something challenging and educational, and accidentally bumped into the call for applications to the program on my Twitter feed. After going through the requirements for the program, I realized that it was exactly what I was looking for.

My educational and professional experience was exactly what the program needed. After being in the program I have started to network with people from all over Africa, with different backgrounds and experiences. It has been quite a ride and I have learnt so much from my peers and the facilitators of the program. I have always been interested in sustainable energy, but OAP has given me a new perspective to it and equipped me with the ways that I can undertake in my community and the whole world, to ensure that the SDG 7 is reached. The chance to work with people from all walks of life and different parts of the world on projects facilitated by OAP, has been quite eye-opening and interesting. The amount of information that I have learnt from my peers will stand me in good stead for the future. I look forward to putting into practice all that I have learnt.

One of OAP’s main pillars has been to share knowledge, and that is exactly what they have done with this program, be it on the discussion platform or through the live sessions with facilitators. I am immensely proud to be part of this program and humbled to be sharing information with educated and experienced people on this platform. I believe that this cohort will go a long way in trying to eradicate the energy issue that is affecting the world because they are dedicated to their craft.”

 

Stay tuned for more upcoming contributions!

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