RES4Africa Micro-Grid Academy

Last updated: 3 August 2023

The RES4Africa Foundation was launched in 2012 to support just transitions in Africa’s energy sector toward achieving the SDG7 goal to ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. The role of the foundation is to provide a supportive environment for clean energy technology investments in Africa. The executive committee of the foundation is comprised of CEO’s and directors from Enel Green Power, Siemens, Gamesa, Schneider Electric and PwC, among others. The main focus areas are: 1) building dialogue between public and private actors in Europe and Africa; 2) sharing experiences within the clean energy technology industry to allow a sustainable transition of Africa’s electricity sector; 3) creating a cooperation platform that unites experts in the energy industry, development community and energy stakeholders in Europe and Africa; and 4) supporting African stakeholder’s needs in the clean energy space. Overall, the foundation has developed more than 100 partnerships across the globe, trained 1 400 people in 30 countries, and published more than 70 studies, reports and papers.

As part of the foundation’s work, the Micro Grid Academy (MGA), launched in 2018, is a vocational capacity-building programme in Sub-Saharan Africa. The MGA aims to create a skilled workforce to deploy decentralised renewable energy solutions in the East Africa region and beyond, thereby improving energy access in rural communities while fostering local enterprise development and job creation. The MGA has a particular focus on training young people, given that 75% of the continent’s population is currently under the age of 35. The MGA’s programme is based on three elements: education, innovation and impact/empowerment.

Under its education category, the MGA’s goal is to provide theoretical and practical technical skills to up to 200 people per year in occupations ranging from technicians, project managers, developers, engineers and academic students. Todate, around 1 550 people have been trained, and 24 training editions have been implemented on-field in the East African Community, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Zambia, as well as an online course with eth involvement of more than 40 African countries.

The innovation pillar of the MGA annually awards three innovative youth projects with EUR 5 000 and supports winners with mentorship and visibility, in collaboration with the European Investment Bank. The winner of the 2021 edition submitted the idea of a platform consisting of a network of solar-powered cold storage solutions, deployed in food aggregation centres (farm clusters, open markets or food warehouses). This aims to enhance food security while providing sustainable jobs to locals in installation and maintenance.

The impact and empowerment pillar includes an alumni community of local professionals that foster peer-to-peer experiences and knowledge, with a focus on job opportunities, soft and business skills, and entrepreneurship issues to support youth access to the local job market. The effort also includes partnerships with women- and youth-led associations to increase the participation of women and youth in the renewables sector.

RES4Africa has additional training programmes, including the Advanced Training Course (ATC). The ATC, which takes place both online and in-person in Milan, in collaboration with Bocconi University and Politecnico di Milano, is a two-week capacity-building course dedicated to managerial expertise that covers technical, regulatory, financial, and sustainability issues for renewable energy. The course includes an overview of the state of renewables development in Africa, reinforces capacities in the development and implementation of renewables programmes, introduces ways to boost investments and overcome barriers, as well as stresses the importance of inclusive and sustainable development. In 2021, the classes ran from November to April, with one weekly lesson. The ATC has trained 570 managers since its inception in 2014 from several African countries.

In parallel to its capacity building training, the RES4Africa Foundation also holds events designed to raise awareness on topics related to education. In June 2022, RES4Africa held an event on Youth Empowerment for driving African energy transition, in collaboration with PwC Italy. The events focus on the educational challenges encountered by African youth and identify the best ways to support them through existing programmes. 

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