The African Energy Chamber (AEC), in collaboration with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Youth Forum, will host a Youth Energy Roundtable discussion during this year’s edition of African Energy Week (AEW) – taking place from October 18-21, 2022 in Cape Town.
During the forum, discussions will largely centre on the role of energy and power; kickstarting trade; and driving sustainability on the back of improved participation by the continent’s youth.
With energy representing the backbone of every economy, prioritizing the investment and development of Africa’s energy and power sectors is key. Currently, one of the biggest threats to the African continent is energy poverty, with 75% of those without access to electricity globally living in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the continent also represents one of the richest globally in terms of energy. Over 125 billion barrels of oil and 620 trillion cubic of natural gas, coupled with abundant renewable energy resources, have well positioned the continent to make energy poverty history by 2030. As such, in order for the continent to develop, industrialize and strengthen its economies, while ensuring the population has reliable, affordable and sustainable access to electricity, capitalizing on this resource wealth, as well as the continent’s biggest asset: the youth, is critical.
In order for the continent to develop and monetize its resources, recognizing the role the youth play as drivers will enable Africa to fast-track its development. Representing one of the most capable and willing workforces globally, Africa’s youth is set to usher in a new era of innovation, investment and business, not just across the upstream, midstream and downstream energy industries but across every facet of the value chain. In the trade sector, for example, an industry with one of the highest potentials for growth on the continent, the youth have and will continue to play a significant role. With the AfCFTA having been implemented in January 2021, new opportunities have arisen for the free trade of goods and services, opening up new prospects for employment, skills development and solving the unemployment crisis evident across the continent’s youth. Specifically, in the hydrocarbon, mining and power sectors, the AfCFTA, leveraged by the youth, will unlock new opportunities for growth and development across the continent, and already a number of organizations and stakeholders are providing the support needed to drive trade. The African Export-Import Bank, the Development Finance Institution and the International Finance Corporation, for example, continue to be instrumental funding partners for the continent’s youth. As new financial institutions are formed, these opportunities are set to increase multifold.
Meanwhile, at a time when the need to transition to a cleaner energy future is being prioritized globally, driving youth-led innovation and development will ensure the continent’s transition is not achieved at the risk of development. For Africa, oil and gas will continue to play a significant role in powering economies, industrializing the continent and making energy poverty history by 2030. While renewables will play a key role, it is clear that the transition needs to be implemented in a just and equitable manner. Stepping into this picture, Africa’s youth represent the drivers of Africa’s energy transition as they are well positioned to ensure the transition is well-balanced, prioritizing both people and the planet.
“The African continent’s energy transition must speak to Africa’s reality and not limit the continent’s ability to develop and grow. Africa’s youth is its strongest asset, and as such, it should be front and centre of every energy-related decision as well as the energy transition. For a continent rich with a variety of natural and mineral resources, and now have the tools to expand intra-African trade through the AfCFTA, ensuring youth are at the forefront of development will translate into long-term, sustainable and beneficial growth,” states NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber (AEC), adding that, “It is in this context that we will host the Youth Energy Forum at AEW 2022 to empower the youth to seize opportunities, drive progress and lead the energy transition.”
The solution to making energy poverty history by 2030 lies in the continent’s young population. For Africa, a continent with the youngest and fastest growing population globally, unlocking the true potential of the youth will trigger newfound growth and innovation. As such, the AEW 2022 Youth Energy Forum will drive this very narrative, focusing predominantly on the capacity of the youth to expand energy and power-related sectors.
AEW 2022 is the AEC’s annual conference, exhibition and networking event. AEW 2022 unites African energy stakeholders with investors and international partners to drive industry growth and development and promote Africa as the destination for energy investments. Key organizations such as the African Petroleum Producers Organization, as well as African heavyweights including Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria, have partnered with AEW, strengthening the role the event will play in Africa’s energy future.