By Ifeanyi Odoh, Country President, Schneider Electric East Africa

May 2024,

The world is becoming increasingly electrified and with this comes challenges and opportunities. It is a time that sees countries across the globe witnessing a change in how we produce and consume energy.

It is a world that races against time to meet emissions reduction targets and the urgency to fulfil subsequent sustainable transformation.  It is a place which sees organisations prioritise digitalisation, decarbonisation and sustainability.

At the heart of it all lies the new energy landscape. 

Defining the new energy landscape

The new energy landscape represents the outcome of the global shift toward renewable energy sources, which is crucial to fight climate change.  And for each country this is somewhat unique, depending on the sum of the alternative energy resources that ultimately make up the part that is the new energy landscape.

In Kenya, for example, we’re seeing the emergence of an electric vehicle (EV) marketplace which will leverage the country’s geothermal and hydropower energies baseload.  This transition not only represents the adoption of new technology but also a cultural shift towards higher productivity driven, if you will, by alternative energy.

However, with this adoption should also come sound energy management practices. People tend to charge their EVs at their destination—be it their office, home, or shopping malls—accounting for almost 80% of charging behaviour. This shift could potentially double or triple the energy demand of buildings overnight.

To illustrate, a typical electric car might use approximately 7KW to charge, while in Kenya, has a power demand of about 2KW. Introducing an EV to a household could multiply its energy consumption by three to four times.

To meet this demand, and allow for the increased adoption of EVs, optimised energy management strategies should be implemented, allowing for the development of onsite renewable generation, such as rooftop solar and introducing efficiency measures, with digitised real-time monitoring to manage and reduce energy use.

Developing the skills for the new energy landscape

Africa, particularly East Africa, boasts a youthful population. For example, over 80 percent of Kenya’s population is aged 35 years and below. It’s a young, impressionable population that has the potential to change the course of history.

It is also this demographic which underscores the importance of training young people to drive forward the new energy landscape.  Here, vocational schools can play a critical role in preparing the youth for the future, ensuring that East Africa capitalises on its demographic advantage without the need to import skills.

Establishing this young, dynamic and skilled labour force can also extend to entrepreneurship and training, again emphasising the importance of partnerships with vocational schools and industry stakeholders.  This will equip the next generation with the necessary skills to thrive in the new energy landscape.

Indeed, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are set to become the backbone of East Africa’s new energy landscape movement. It is these organisations that will create jobs and with the support of large global organisations like Schneider Electric set benchmarks for the establishment of the new energy landscape.

Schneider Electric envisions a future shaped by countries like Kenya, acting at this intersection between technology and decarbonisation.  It is also leaders such as the youth and SMEs, which we refer to as impact makers, which are driving change and shaping a more resilient, electric, and net-zero world.