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Energy Transition and  The African Youth

Energy Transition and The African Youth

As Africa and the rest of the world take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emission targets set in the Paris Agreement, collective responsibility is required from energy sector players and community members, primarily the youth in the African context. This presents an opportunity that would mutually benefit the climate and the youth. What opportunity is this? You may wonder. Two words, ‘Energy Transition’. Energy transition refers to a transformation shift of the global energy sector from fossil-based energy to zero-carbon energy to reduce carbon emissions for a positive impact on climate change.

The youth represent an untapped potential of ideas and technological know-how that could add significant value to the energy transition journey. The fact that young people have begun to play an active part in developing climate change solutions is evidence of this potential. The resonance with the values of these young people, and the massive opportunity the sector presents in terms of jobs, well-being, health and equality, are among the incentivising factors of the sector. The youth, however, need to be empowered to lead the change, through bottom-up economic initiatives, so they can genuinely feel ownership over their future. There are various ways youths can be supported as agents of change in energy transition; below are some tactics to be employed:

Equipping the future labour force with the skills for energy transition. Youth, who are the most productive, will need the support of the energy sector in accessing skills training that will equip them to add value to the energy transition effectively. Additionally, the energy sector needs to provide desirable career runways that support a growing career trajectory and self-sustainability through financial independence for the youth.

Allowing youth to have a seat at the table where climate action policies are being passed. World leaders acknowledge the impact that youth could play in pushing for necessary climate and energy policies. While this is a first step in the right direction,  policymakers still have a long way to go because they need to engage young people as actual partners in decision-making, and to ensure policies meaningfully consider and mobilise resources to support youth-led solutions.

Mobilise real resources to support youth-led solutions. One of the most powerful ways that policymakers can empower young people is by allowing them to access tangible resources and decision-making power that helps them to shape their own futures and that of their communities;  which spans providing access to training, networks, and financial resources which they would need to develop and scale clean energy solutions. Therefore, policymakers in all countries at every level must allocate resources to youth within their scope of work, whether through a fund for youth-led projects, partnerships with existing youth-led initiatives, or increasing youth representation within critical decision-making spaces, especially in climate change decisions.

Turning words into action. The energy sector is missing out on benefiting from an entire talent pool by not unlocking jobs and economic opportunities for young people in the renewable energy sector. If there is poor investment in young people, that translates to divesting in future generations. Now more than ever, is the time to turn hypothetical situations into reality by acting on them instead of just speaking about them.


While the energy transition journey is still quite extensive, there is reason to be optimistic as we see evidence of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. We have begun to witness the rising of some youth in European and a few African countries into leadership roles as advocates and innovators, bringing clean and reliable energy solutions to their homes, communities, regions, and even countries. This is a trend we posit ought to be catalysed for even greater impact.