African Energy Week 2023 will host a ‘Youth in Energy Roundtable,’ with a focus on empowering youth in energy to foster sustainable solutions for the future.
The global energy landscape is rapidly evolving, with a growing emphasis on sustainability and clean energy solutions. At a time when nations are calling for the transition to a renewable energy future, growing demand and efforts to industrialize are further cementing the role oil and gas plays in Africa. To tackle the challenges of this changing world, it is crucial to engage and empower the youth, who are the future leaders and innovators in the energy sector.
During this year’s edition of the African Energy Week (AEW) conference – scheduled for October 16-20 in Cape Town -, a dedicated ‘Youth in Energy Roundtable’ will feature conversations by industry figureheads, thought-leaders and innovators around this very topic. The panel will explore strategies for enhancing the participation of youth in energy, and serves as a discussion to empower young Africans in their advancement in the energy industry. Topics include investing in education and scholarship opportunities, boosting mentorship and internship programs, the role global partnerships play and addressing challenges to participation in the industry.
Young Africans make up more than 70% of the continent’s population and are poised to play a leading role in shaping a sustainable future. To capitalize on the growing pool of talent, some African countries are already spearheading efforts to advance the participation of youth in energy.
Namibia has emerged as a frontrunner in promoting youth involvement in the energy sector by actively investing in educational and vocational training programs. Taking a significant step towards a sustainable energy future, Namibia, in collaboration with the German government, launched the Namibian Youth for Green Hydrogen Scholarship Program. This fully funded scholarship initiative spans over five years and aims to build capacity for the emerging green hydrogen industry while addressing the country’s high youth unemployment rates. At the same time, the country is collaborating with global tertiary institutions to scale up oil and gas training. The Ministry of Mines and Energy partnered with French-based institution SciencesPo to bolster education and internships opportunities in the emerging hydrocarbon industry. Through these initiatives, Namibia is empowering its youth to become leaders in the energy sector and fostering a skilled workforce for the country’s sustainable development.
Similarly, Ghana is actively concentrating on improving youth participation in the oil and gas market and addressing the industry’s lack of experience and skills. With the country’s oil and gas market being relatively young, there is a concerted effort to develop local content and enhance the capabilities of the workforce. Ghana has implemented programs like the Ghana Upstream Sector Internship Program and the Associated Oil and Gas Capacity Building Program to train and empower young individuals. By placing youths in technical institutions and providing specialized training, these initiatives aim to equip them with the necessary skills and certifications to work for international firms, thereby fostering greater recognition and opportunities for Ghanaian graduates in the global oil and gas industry.
Meanwhile, one notable initiative, the Youth Energy Innovators Program, was introduced by the African Development Bank in 2020. This program provides financial support and capacity building for young entrepreneurs in the renewable energy sector. It has already made a positive impact by backing various youth-led renewable energy projects, such as a solar-powered poultry business in Rwanda and a waste-to-energy project in Ghana. These endeavors not only promote sustainable development but also inspire a new generation of renewable energy leaders in Africa.
Additionally, the RES4Africa Foundation plays a pivotal role in supporting young energy leaders through vocational capacity building in renewable energy and its youth advocacy program. The organization fulfills this objective through various initiatives, including capacity-building programs like the Micro-Grid Academy and ATC, providing financing and empowerment opportunities through the MGA Young Talent of the Year Award, and establishing the Youth Task Force. The Youth Task Force consists of young representatives from important international organizations operating in the renewable energy sector. Their primary responsibility is to convey the voices of youth to decision-making layers, advocating for policies that consider and prioritize the needs and opinions of young Africans. By doing so, the Foundation aims to shape an energy transition that values and integrates the perspectives of youth rather than overshadowing them.
“Harnessing the potential of Africa’s youthful population in the energy sector is not just an option; it is imperative for our continent’s sustainable future. By empowering the youth with education, mentorship, and opportunities across the entire energy value chain, we are paving the way for a prosperous future led by the innovative minds of tomorrow,” states NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC).
AEW is the AEC’s interactive exhibition and networking event uniting African energy stakeholders, driving industry growth and development, and promoting Africa as the destination for African-focused events. For more information about sponsorship, attendance, and partnership opportunities, visit www.aecweek.com