How Open Africa Power helped these four women take the next step in their energy careers
The Open Africa Power programme, co-managed by SEforALL and Enel Foundation, is a unique platform for young professionals to gain valuable insights, connect with industry leaders, and develop innovative solutions to address Africa's energy challenges.
It is crucial to empower Africa's young leaders with the necessary knowledge and tools to shape the continent's energy landscape because it is their future which are most at stake.
The 2022 cohort of the Open Africa Power programme has produced exceptional female talent in the energy sector, with four outstanding women emerging among the top performers of the programme. Their achievements underscore the importance of empowering young leaders and promoting inclusivity in Africa's energy sector. They serve as role models for aspiring young professionals hoping to reshape Africa's energy landscape. This demonstrates the immense potential of Africa's youth in driving the continent's energy transition toward a sustainable and equitable future.
Here’s a quick summary of these impressive young talents and their takeaways from Open Africa Power.
Damilola Adeyanju holds a BSc in Geology from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, and a master's degree in Renewable Energy, Enterprise, and Management from Newcastle University, UK. She is an Executive Coordinator at the Arctic Basecamp Foundation, a non-profit science communication platform focused on encouraging bold action to address the impacts of the global climate crisis. During the job shadowing component of Open Africa Power, Damilola shadowed the Executive Director at Arctic Basecamp, where she gained valuable leadership skills.
Damilola's first-hand experience of the impact of energy poverty on societies during her geologic fieldwork in several Nigerian villages without grid access was her primary inspiration for applying to the programme. Her goal was to accelerate energy access in Nigeria and other African countries. Her capstone project focused on introducing virtual power plants in estates to encourage citizens to adopt solar energy solutions, with the aim of accelerating solar energy adoption rates in Nigeria. Damilola believes accelerating the energy transition is crucial to achieving net-zero targets and mitigating the climate crisis in climate-vulnerable regions.
Damilola cites expanding her network and connecting with other top talents in the energy space in Africa as the main highlight and key takeaway from Open Africa Power. "I would 100 percent recommend the programme to anyone considering applying. The resources and support have been invaluable, particularly the mentorship programme and networking opportunity," said Damilola. She hopes to leverage the new perspectives, experience, and knowledge gained from the programme in facilitating a just energy transition globally.
Rose Chemiat holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and an MSc in Sustainable Energy from the University of Glasgow, UK. She currently serves as the East and Southern Africa Regional Sales Manager for SafeWater at Grundfos, where she specializes in energy and water. SafeWater is a unit within Grundfos that collaborates closely with its partners and communities to provide commercially viable and sustainable water solutions. During the programme's job shadowing component, Rose shadowed the Water Access Director at Grundfos, which allowed her to develop the necessary skills to deliver on multi-stakeholder projects.
Rose's focus on sustainability during her master's degree inspired her to pursue a career in sustainable water solutions. Open Africa Power’s interdisciplinary nature encouraged her to apply for the 2022 cohort, stating that "it addresses crucial elements necessary to advance the energy sector and enhance interdependent services such as water access."
Rose’s capstone project focused on an innovative solar solution for educational institutions and communities. It highlighted the conception of a new energy system that could power communal automated laundry facilities and other applications, including campus and street lighting.
Rose intends to apply the knowledge acquired from program to advance water access to underserved communities through efficient solar-powered solutions and hand pump swaps with solar-powered pumps. She also intends to contribute to the sector's growth as a trainer on similar programmes that recognize and develop the talent of young energy practitioners.
Zimasa Macingwane holds an MSc in Maritime Affairs from the World Maritime University in Sweden, specializing in Maritime Energy Management, the first South African female to specialize in this area. She is pursuing a Ph.D. with a research focus on renewable energy and green hydrogen, examining marine energy for economic growth and development in South Africa. During the programme's job shadowing component, she had the opportunity to shadow a University Professor from Nelson Mandela University who serves as an energy expert and advisor in industry, corporate, and academia. Zimasa has gained valuable skills and knowledge, which she will use in her current role and studies.
Zimasa's energy interests were sparked when she joined an international company specializing in installing renewable energy wind farms. During this time, Zimasa witnessed the positive impacts of renewable energy projects in addressing her country's energy transition to clean, green, and sustainable energy. Her Capstone Project focused on introducing green hydrogen to the country's energy mix, making use of a process called electrolysis.
Zimasa's main takeaways from the Open Africa Power programme include connecting with young energy leaders from Africa, where they all speak the same language through "energy," learning how individuals work tirelessly to address their country's energy challenges, and expanding her network. She encourages anyone passionate about managing their country's energy challenges while striving for 100 percent electrification and sustainability to be part of the programme.
Zita is a graduate of Banking and Finance with a master’s degree in international business Banking and Finance. Currently, Zita is a Global Communications Senior Associate at a mini-grid company. Her work provides a unique opportunity to directly address social impact problems and develop economies by providing power to people. During the programme's job shadowing component, she had the opportunity to do a peer-to-peer shadow. She shadowed a systems engineer who works on smart grid integration and remote monitoring of the mini-grids.
Zita's passion lies in providing energy access to underserved communities in Nigeria and communicating the importance of sustainable energy solutions to stakeholders and decision-makers, connecting the dots to other Sustainable Development Goal initiatives. Her desire to learn more about the industry led her to apply for the Open Africa Power, which was recommended to her by a mentor. Zita's capstone project focused on creating a tool to measure ESG (environmental, social, and governance) metrics for Nigeria's renewable energy projects and solutions. She believes this tool could be valuable for Nigeria's Energy Transition Plan to ensure 100 percent energy access by providing a standardized way to measure the impact of renewable energy solutions.
The highlight of the programme for Zita was meeting and connecting with people with vast knowledge and experiences. She appreciated the chance to work across the continent and build a network of professionals she can learn and collaborate with in the future. Looking ahead, Zita plans to leverage the knowledge and insights gained from Open Africa Power in her current role. Zita advises anyone applying for the programme to network and connect with other professionals. "The Open Africa Power program is an excellent opportunity to connect with other professionals in the energy sector. Take advantage of this by building relationships with your fellow participants," said Zita.
The 2023 application window for Open Africa Power is open until 10 April 2023.