Wits Busi­ness School ad­dresses the en­ergy sec­tor’s skills short­age

An MA and a post­grad­u­ate diploma in the field of En­ergy Lead­er­ship will be launched in Jan­uary 2019

Mail & Guardian - - Careers -

The en­ergy land­scape in Africa is chang­ing dra­mat­i­cally. Op­por­tu­ni­ties abound for in­vest­ments, part­ner­ships and other ini­tia­tives in the sec­tor, par­tic­u­larly in oil, gas and re­new­able en­ergy. The World Bank’s Africa En­ergy project port­fo­lio now 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: ex­cel­lent so­lar ra­di­a­tion and wind, as well as sub­stan­tial re­serves of nat­u­ral gas, oil and coal.

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

It is es­ti­mated that 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 es­tab­lished the Africa En­ergy Lead­er­ship Cen­tre (AELC) in 2017, in part­ner­ship with the Chem­i­cal In­dus­tries Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Author­ity.

“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 that 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 Wits Busi­ness School 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 that 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 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.”

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 PhDs to build upon 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, there’s 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.”

Pro­fes­sor Rod Cromp­ton, Direc­tor of the Wits Busi­ness School Africa En­ergy Lead­er­ship Cen­tre. Photo: Sup­plied

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