Open Africa Power: A transformative experience for young people’s energy careers



As the world celebrates International Women's Day this year under the theme "Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress," the Open Africa Power (OAP) programme, an initiative launched Enel Foundation in 2018, and jointly managed by Enel Foundation and SEforALL since 2022, stands as a beacon of women and youth empowerment, driving progress towards a just and equitable energy transition.

OAP is a flagship initiative that equips between 100-150 young professionals per year (ensuring at least 50 percent participation of women) with a complete set of technical, regulatory, and business skills needed to tackle Africa’s energy challenges.  

Investing in Africa's youth is crucial, as they hold the key to accelerating progress and shaping the future of the continent's sustainable energy landscape. The remarkable achievements of the 2023 cohort of the programme, portraythe exceptional  talent emerging from Africa and ready to make an impact in their local communities and stand as global inspiration in the sustainable energy sector.



This year’s cohort engaged 102 exceptional youth from 25 African countries, and we are proud to spotlight eight outstanding young women from the programme's top performers who are changing the narrative and making a positive impact in the sustainable energy sector. Their achievements substantiate the importance of empowering young leaders and promoting inclusivity within Africa’s energy sector.

These young women serve as role models for aspiring professionals, embodying the potential of Africa's youth to drive the continent's energy transition toward a sustainable and equitable future.

Here’s a quick summary of these incredible young energy leaders and their takeaways from the OAP programme.

Afah Ikalumhe (Formerly Daudu)

Afah holds a dual degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, with a Master's from Covenant University and a Bachelor's from Landmark University, Nigeria. She has over eight years of experience within the power industry. She currently serves as the Director of Operations at Remedy Earth, an independent sustainable power producer holding exclusive distributor rights for the innovative Paradigm Power Plant IP.

A key element of the programme involved shadowing a mentor. Inspired by her Managing Director's exceptional skills, Afah chose him as her guide. From the very beginning, Afah was called upon to step outside her comfort zone and present to a potential client in West Africa via a virtual platform. She pushed through her fear, and this marked a turning point. Her efforts were met with appreciation and encouragement from her mentor, leading to a practice of presenting all reports instead of relying on emails. This, in turn, significantly boosted her confidence and public speaking abilities.

Emma Ayieko

Emma Ayieko (Kenya) holds a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master's degree in Environmental & Biosystems engineering, and specializes in Building Services (MEP). Emma focuses on designing and implementing energy-efficient plumbing, fire, and HVAC systems in various infrastructure types. 

By participating in OAP, Emma expanded her knowledge and skills through the detailed lectures, rich discussions with professors and fellow participants, and in-depth readings on the diverse categories of sustainable energy, their possibilities and solutions in Africa. The job-shadowing component of the programme further expanded her skills in project management and sustainable building services designs, as she got hands-on experience from senior electrical engineers who served as her mentors.

Kate Anne Mukangula

Kate Anne Mukangula holds a B.Eng. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Moi University, Kenya and a Master’s of Science in Energy Management from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. She is currently a Projects Engineer at Kenya Power and Lighting Ltd., where her core mandate is to increase access to electricity in both rural and urban areas. Her main highlight of the OAP programme was meeting and engaging with young professionals actively working in their various countries with one goal of universal access, which ultimately brought feelings of community and shared values. It is a programme she strongly recommends to any aspiring young professional in the energy sector.

Kathy Kiema

Kathy Kiema is an electrical engineer by training with a specialization in renewable energy. She is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya, where she has worked as a design engineer in development of 15MW of solar PV plants over the past six years within East Africa. In her current advisory role at GIZ, she supports the development of energy efficiency and solar PV projects for the commercial and industrial sector.

OAP has been an enlightening experience for Kathy, both through her interactions with other energy practitioners across Africa as well as through the structured content which provided her a fresh perspective on the energy sector in Africa. She particularly liked the capstone assignment, which pushed her to make a deep dive analysis of a country’s energy sector in with respect to policy, regulation and structures – a task that she otherwise would not have taken on her own.

Metshet Tsega Gebresilasie

Metshet Tsega Gebresilasie hails from Ethiopia. She holds a BSc in mechanical engineering and a MSc in Energy Technology, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Addis Ababa.

Metshet gained exposure to a diverse network of professionals and acquired valuable knowledge through her participation in the Open Africa Power programme. This experience, including the job shadowing component, broadened her perspective and connected her with energy experts that share a positive vision for Africa's energy sector development. Shadowing the Green Energy TVET programme manager provided Metshet with practical insights into project implementation, revealing challenges and solutions in execution, communication, and stakeholder management.

Celia Aku

Celia Aku is a seasoned Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst with over seven years of experience in both the energy and land administration sectors. Celia has a background in geography and a MSc in GIS, and currently serves as an Assistant Manager, GIS and Site Acquisition, based in Nigeria.

As a GIS Analyst in the energy sector, she recognized the scarcity of professionals in her field. Eager to bridge this gap and contribute to improving electricity access in unserved and underserved communities, she enrolled in OAP. The curriculum effectively covered the role and significance of geospatial intelligence in the energy sector, emphasizing its ability to facilitate proper planning, cost savings, and increased sustainability.

Rinret Best

Rinret Best graduated with an MSc in Environmental Sustainability and Green Technology from Keele University, UK, following her earlier achievement of a BSc in Microbiology from the University of Jos, Nigeria. She currently serves as the Head of Compliance, Sustainability, and Energy Research at Meyana Energy.

During the job shadowing segment of OAP, Rinret had the opportunity to shadow the Project Manager. This experience provided her with valuable insights into leadership, organizational dynamics, and management skills, further enhancing her professional development.

She is eager to utilize her newfound expertise to drive positive change in energy access, transportation, and sustainable agriculture throughout the continent, leveraging resources like natural gas (Nigeria's transition fuel) and biogas.

Kasweka Konga

Kasweka Konga is a qualified lawyer with a master's degree in Energy and Natural Resources Law. Currently, she serves as a Business Development and New Ventures Associate at Africa Greenco's Zambian subsidiary - GreenCo Power Services Limited. Her focus lies in driving the just energy transition, including contributions to their Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) and green hydrogen initiatives.

Participating in OAP has been an enlightening experience for Kasweka. Engaging with professionals from diverse backgrounds broadened her understanding of renewable energy strategies, especially within Africa's evolving energy landscape. The collaborative environment fostered rich discussions and exposed her to innovative solutions, further fuelling her passion for sustainability. The job shadowing component provided invaluable insights into real-world challenges and decision-making strategies, enhancing her understanding of effective business strategies in the energy sector.