Youth key to shaping Africa's new energy landscape

Schneider Electric East Africa country president Ifeanyi Odoh. [Courtesy]

The world is becoming increasingly “electrified”, which comes with challenges and opportunities.

It is a time that sees countries across the globe change how they produce and consume energy.  It is a world that races against time to meet emissions reduction targets and the urgency to fulfil subsequent sustainable transformation.  This has seen organisations prioritise digitalisation, decarbonisation and sustainability.

At the heart of it all lies the new energy landscape. The new energy landscape represents the outcome of the global shift toward renewable energy sources, which is crucial to fight climate change.  For each country, this is somewhat unique, depending on the sum of the alternative energy resources that ultimately make up the new energy landscape.

In Kenya, for example, we are seeing the emergence of an electric vehicle (EV) marketplace, which will leverage the country’s geothermal and hydropower energies baseload. This transition not only represents the adoption of new technology but also a cultural shift towards higher productivity-driven, if you will, by alternative energy.

However, with this adoption should also come sound energy management practices. People tend to charge their EVs at their destination - be it their office, home, or shopping malls  - accounting for almost 80 per cent of charging behaviour. This shift could potentially double or triple the energy demand of buildings overnight. To illustrate, a typical electric car might use approximately seven kilowatts (KW) to charge, while Kenya has a power demand of about 2KW. Introducing an EV to a household could multiply its energy consumption by three to four times

To meet this demand, and allow for the increased adoption of EVs, optimised energy management strategies should be implemented, allowing for the development of onsite renewable generation, such as rooftop solar and introducing efficiency measures, with digitised real-time monitoring to manage and reduce energy use. 

Africa, particularly East Africa, boasts a youthful population. For example, over 80 per cent of Kenya’s population is aged 35 years and below. It’s a young population that has the potential to change the course of history.

 -The writer is Country President, Schneider Electric East Africa

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