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5 min.

Open Africa Power 2019's success: the future of green energy is in good hands

Numbers more than doubled and there were strong synergies between universities and institutions. The second edition of Open Africa Power recently came to an end in Italy with two weeks of training and hands-on experience for 16 talented African students.

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Help train future African leaders in the field of energy: that was the purpose of the 2019 edition of Open Africa Power, which recently came to an end in Italy. Sixteen of the project’s best students (hailing from 8 different African countries and chosen based on academic merit) were hosted by the Enel Foundation from 24 June to 5 July. The Italian module of their training program came at the end of a full 6 months of study and field experience.

The Open Africa Power project was started to give advanced training to top Engineering, Law and Economics Masters and PhD students from various African universities. Enel Foundation has guided the aims of the project in cooperation with Strathmore University, the University of Addis Abeba (for the first module in Africa), the Polytechnic University of Turin, the Polytechnic University of MilanUniversity SDA Bocconi, Venice International University and the Florence School of Regulation (for the Italian module).

Open Africa Power 2019, a success story

The first edition of Open Africa Power involved 29 students chosen out of 140 applicants and took place at Strathmore University and the University of Nairobi, in Kenya. This year’s numbers were more than double: 60 participants, one-third of whom were women, chosen out of over 400 candidates. The 6-month, 4-module training course kicked off in African for the first week at the University of Addis Abeba and the UNECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa) offices, also located in  Ethiopia’s capital.

This first module involved classroom lessons in Ethiopia; the second used e-learning; the third was a residential module; and finally, a 2-week learning trip in Italy. The trip included visits to some of Enel Group’s strategic business locations and attendance at various institutional and networking events, including a closing ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The first Italian day of Open Africa Power 2019 began with a visit to the Enel Smart Grid Lab in Milan and to CESI, followed by a presentation of the Masters program in Green Management, Energy and Corporate Social Responsibility (MaGER).

The official launch of the module was celebrated with a seminar organized by SDA Bocconi’s Africa Lab to discuss Italy’s role as an international hub of education and training to support the future of sustainability in Africa. Patrizia Grieco, President of Enel and President of the Enel Foundation’s Scientific Committee was present.


“The type of answers that Africa and the African people can offer to the challenges that await them no longer concerns Africans only. It concerns all of us and the future of the entire planet.”

– Patrizia Grieco, President of Enel Group and Enel Foundation’s Scientific Committee


After the stop in Milan, which included lessons at the Polytechnic University of Milan and a visit to its prestigious Wind Tunnel, the group attended a series of lessons at the Polytechnic University of Turin and took part in a special event that was part of Italian Tech Week. At the Links Foundation in Turin, each of the 16 young Open Africa Power participants presented their own ideas and projects in a 3-minute pitch to the Italian tech community.

The students then held a discussion of just over an hour to spark interest in their ideas: from a bike to generate energy for the rural villages in Burkina Faso - combining human movement with solar panels - to floating solar panel farms on Ethiopia’s hydroelectric dams; from repurposing old parabolic satellite TV antennas as solar energy accumulators, to using biomass in rural areas. All of the proposals wed innovation, sustainability and specific local characteristics.

Workshops, visits to power stations and institutional meetings

The first intense week of lessons took place at Venice International University, where the participants attended a workshop on public engagement. The second week was in Florence, with a session at the Florence School of Regulation. The participants listened to Director Jean-Michel Glachant present the main results of the FSR Global Forum, an event held for the first time this year with energy regulators from all over the world and sponsored by the Enel Foundation.

The 16 students also got a chance to visit some of Enel Group’s energy production and distribution plants: the geothermal station in Larderello, Aquila’s high-tech electricity distribution station, and the power plants at Civitavecchia (thermal generation), Collarmele (wind) and on the Tiber River (hydro).

The activities wound down on Friday, July 5th with a workshop at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to share the principle outcomes of the training and to interact with the Italian institutions and African diplomats present.

Enel Green Power’s Commitment

Enel Green Power applied its expertise first-hand in training the Open Africa Power students, as part of its constant collaboration with the Enel Foundation. In the African module (Sustainability Africa), Suelen Quadri took part, focusing on sustainability and shared value, with special attention paid to the solar panel utility scale project; Fabrizio Bonemazzi (Head of Engineering) spoke about Operation & Maintenance challenges, which are crucial in light of the continent’s capacity demand; Matteo Cavadini (East Africa Business Development) explained EGP’s concrete plans in the region.

During the Italian module, Enrique de las Morenas (Head of People & Organization) spoke in Rome about the importance of human capital for the energy transition, while at the closing ceremony at the MFAIC, Giovanni Tula (Head of Innovability) showed great interest in the projects developed by the Open Africa Power students.

Networking, training and on-site exploration of the innovative features of the energy sector were all key pillars of the Open Africa Power training project. Enel Green Power is one of the main renewable energy operators in Africa and is constantly committed to the continent’s sustainable development, which has some of the world’s highest growth rates and will require much more energy in the future. 

That energy can be supplied above all by training local personnel who can follow every phase of the value chain when building a plant, from planning to construction to maintenance.

For Enel Green Power, initiatives like Open Africa Power are a chance to guarantee job opportunities for young Africans and to enrich its own teams with brilliant professionals. The next edition is already in the works. The country that will host Open Africa 2020 will be announced shortly. Training new leaders for the energy transition south of the Mediterranean is an unending pursuit.

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