Centres of excellence in electricity network launched

The African Development Bank has provided a €9.7 million (US$10.8 million) grant for the new African Network of Centres of Excellence in Electricity, or ANCEE. Centres have been selected in four African countries and will train some 9,700 power professionals.

The French Development Agency is contributing €3 million to the Association of Power Utilities of Africa, to manage the centres of excellence and for training of technical and managerial staff for the power utilities.

Trainees will come from across Africa, and a third must be women.

The African Development Bank, or AfDB, and the French agency are major partners in the initiative, along with the African Union. The overall aim is to improve the performance of the power sector and the quality of power services.

The centres of excellence are the Eskom Academy of Learning in South Africa, the Kafue Gorge Regional Training Center in Zambia, the Institute de Formation Pour l’Electricité et le Gas in Algeria, and the Centre des Sciences et Technologies en Electricité in Morocco.

They will offer training during the first and second phases of the project, and four more centres will be selected for the third phase.

The network

The network was officially launched on 22 February in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, by Stefan Nalletamby, the AfDB’s acting vice-president in charge of infrastructure, private sector and regional integration. The launch was attended by representatives of more than 40 power utilities and the African Union, among others.

According to a statement posted on the bank’s website on 4 March, Africa needs to urgently address the human resource capacity gap in the energy sector, especially in view of massive investments planned in the coming few years.

“The energy sector in Africa has suffered from years of inadequate investments in infrastructure and human resources, particularly technicians, engineers and sector managers, creating a major threat to the sustainability of the sector,” the statement said.

According to the network’s business plan, a review of actions to meet the skills and capacity requirements of the power industry pointed to the need for a mechanism such as ANCEE to pool the training resources of the sector and those available in specialised training centres and universities.

“ANCEE adopts the principle of non-exclusion and universal access to its services. Thus, it will offer the services to all countries,” says the network. “Ultimately ANCEE will remove language barriers to training in order to put the huge potential of centres of excellence at the service of the entire continent.”