Wits Business School addresses the energy sector skills shortage

The energy landscape in Africa is changing dramatically. Opportunities abound for investments, partnerships and other initiatives in the sector, particularly in oil and gas and renewable energy.

The World Bank’s Africa Energy project portfolio currently carries 48 projects totalling $3-billion. From Uganda, to Kenya, to Morocco, new projects are being implemented at a rapid pace.

In addition, Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural resources for energy generation — good solar radiation and wind, as well as substantial reserves of natural gas, oil and coal.

Despite all this, however, Africans are still experiencing severe energy shortages. According to the International Energy Agency, 625 million people are without power in sub-Saharan Africa alone.

It is estimated that the energy supply bottlenecks and power shortages cost Africa between 2% and 4% of gross domestic product every year, undermining economic growth, job creation and investment.

It is against this background that Wits Business School (WBS) established the Africa Energy Leadership Centre (AELC) in 2017, in partnership with the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA).

“The AELC is the first of its kind in Africa and aims to address the critical issues of energy shortages in Africa as well as the skills deficit in an industry which is of vital importance to economic growth on the continent,” says Professor Rod Crompton, Director of the AELC.

“This country and continent need highly skilled and knowledgeable leaders to oversee the growth and development of the burgeoning energy sector in Africa. It is exciting for us at WBS to be spearheading the drive to develop such people to take Africa’s energy sector into the future,” he says.

The centre, as a hub of new research and teaching, has developed two new academic programmes which will launch in January 2019 – a Master’s degree and a postgraduate diploma in the field of Energy Leadership.

“These programmes are aimed at professionals who are interested in following a career, or enhancing their existing career, in energy management,” explains Professor Crompton.

  “The curricula will provide candidates with a solid foundation in all aspects of energy and energy management to help develop a new generation of decisive, effective and solutions-oriented leaders that the sector so badly needs,” says Professor Crompton.

The block-release programmes have been designed to suit the needs of busy working professionals, and core modules cover everything from energy demand and supply, the role of energy in macroeconomics, strategic management of energy innovation, environmental sustainability, investment, ethics, and policy, among others.

In addition, WBS is also inviting doctoral candidates to pursue a PhD to build on the body of knowledge and develop new research in African energy leadership.

“The energy sector in Africa is an exciting place to be. It is becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent. And apart from the exponential technological change and innovation is the global transition to cleaner energy,” says Crompton.

“From natural gas, oil, coal, hydro and nuclear to renewable energy, rooftop solar PVs, energy storage technologies, hydrogen, fuel cells, electric vehicles, distributed generation, mini and micro grids, DC transmission and distribution, smart metering, energy efficiency and energy management, ICT and artificial intelligence, Africa has a mix of energy technologies and capabilities. We now need to develop the leadership skills to manage change and transformation.”

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