Strathmore University was once again a hive of activity, but this time it was electric and green, as it hosted the Youth Energy Day. The event, a one-of-a-kind gathering of final-year students, recent graduates, and early-career professionals in the energy industry, was a feast of insights and intriguing career opportunities in Africa’s growing energy sector.
Mission for Green Energy Africa did more than just host this event; it issued a challenge. Harness Africa’s youth’s boundless energy and intellect as a driving force for long-term, all-inclusive energy reform.
The catchphrase of the day was ‘change,’ but the kind that required full capitalization. Because, with empowered African youth at the helm, a sustainable energy transition is entirely within our grasp. Our consistent north stars as we moved through the day were innovation and environmental conscience.
The day was filled with thought-provoking discussions and presentations by a variety of speakers and professionals in the energy industry.
Professor Da Silva, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, presented us with his pearls of wisdom. He proposed that excellence is not only about the destination but also about the trip, challenging us to take the initiative and be always prepared. His passionate statements set the tone for the subsequent smart and thought-provoking seminars.
When Makena Ireri of GEAPP took the stage, she threw a towering shadow over the gathering with a frightening revelation: the gloom of energy poverty engulfing the majority of the population. Nonetheless, she presented not only problems but also answers. Makena emphasized the need for collaboration and the role of youth in achieving a just energy transition. She presented encouraging news regarding initiatives to combat young unemployment, while also emphasizing the need for female empowerment.
Then there came KenGen, with its large 65% contribution to Kenya’s electricity. Miss Banda dispelled the haze surrounding three critical factors guiding the electricity sector: climate change, the role of youth, and local ownership. It was a breath of fresh air to see the vision of a future for Africa with decentralized power networks and a probable shift to nuclear energy.
The conversation wandered toward the neglected, such as the increasing necessity for chemical engineers in battery manufacture and the rise of electric vehicle technicians. Playing multiple roles rather than honing one emerged as the favored skill set, indicating a shift in employment market trends.
Mr. Hans Koopman of Siemens Kenya then shed light on an often neglected truth: ‘having a degree just opens the door. The genuine test of character comes later, in the crucible of real-world experiences’. He emphasized the need for establishing good social skills, cooperation, and adaptability, as well as being current on new technology and advances.
The event acted as a lifeline in between lectures about growth, networking, and flexibility. A critical link between lofty green energy ambitions and the tangibles of real-world opportunities in the field.
To better understand the scale of the energy challenges tackled, consider this: the global economy currently obtains 80% of its energy from hydrocarbons. This means transitioning to a mostly carbon-free energy source is a significant undertaking, as these derivatives are pervasive in everyday products, from plastic shells in electronics to pharmaceuticals.
With these insights and statistics in mind, attendees reflected on the profound impact of the event. One attendee, Njeri, shared her experience, “The event brought to light the magnitude of the energy challenges we face. It was inspiring to see the potential for positive change and the pivotal role of youth in driving this transformation.”
The event also provided a unique opportunity to hear from Schneider Electric graduate trainees who advocate for networking and advancement.
It is no minor undertaking to transition to a mostly carbon-free energy. Recognizing the complexity of replacing oil and gas derivatives, which pervade everything, from your phone’s plastic shell to the painkiller you take for a headache, is critical. As we work to create a better future, we must recognize that this transition, while necessary, will have far reaching consequences.
How can young people take part in this revolution? Young people can engage in the energy sector in myriad ways. From pursuing careers as chemical engineers in battery production to becoming electric vehicle technicians. They can also create impact by continually updating themselves on the latest technology trends, networking, and taking active initiative in programs and events such as this. By doing so, they contribute to the broader picture of sustainable and diverse energy transformation.
Here’s to the future. A future powered by creative, motivated, and resilient energy – one young person at a time!
This article was written by Keith Albert.
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