School to teach skills in sustainable energy regulation

A meeting of African energy and transport ministers has endorsed the African School of Regulation (ASR) which has since received a US$1 million seed grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.

The school, which is said to be a hub of excellence for learning practical skills and conducting applied research in the transition to sustainable energy on the continent, will be incubated by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The foundation is the African Union’s specialised agency for capacity development that has trained more than 50,000 personnel in civil service and established at least 50 think tanks supporting evidence-based policy-making across Africa since it was formed in 1991.

The ASR was instituted on the same foundation as the Florence School of Regulation established within the European University Institute (EUI) in Italy in 2004.

Its establishment followed a scientific knowledge partnership agreement between the EUI, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences, hosted by the Abou Bekr Belkaïd University of Tlemcen in Algeria, among others.

African ministers in charge of transport and energy met in Zanzibar, Tanzania, from 12-15 September 2023 and drafted a declaration in support of the school.

Entities asked for implementation support

“(We) welcome the establishment of the ASR as a pan-African centre of excellence to enhance the capacity of member states on energy regulation. (We) note the progress made by the AUC (African Union Commission) in the implementation of several initiatives, including geothermal energy, solar policy framework, renewable energy in African island states, mini-grids, Africa-EU energy partnership, energy access, and just transition,” the declaration states.

The fourth session of the African Union’s Specialised Technical Committee on Transport, Transcontinental Interregional Infrastructure and Energy earlier also adopted a statement requesting the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and other regional entities to work with the Pan African University system, African universities, and various relevant entities to support the successful implementation of the ASR for the benefit of member states.

The ASR was officially launched during the Africa Climate Summit 2023 in September 2023, which was co-hosted by the Republic of Kenya and the African Union in early September. This followed a call at the end of 2022 on African universities and institutions to show an interest in hosting the school.

A statement the Rockefeller Foundation issued following the school’s official launch said the call for prospective host institutions resulted in a surge of interest and, because of its reputation, geographical footprint across the continent and synergies with African institutions as a specialised agency of the African Union, the ACBF was selected to host the ASR.

The statement said the Rockefeller Foundation, a philanthropic partner of the Africa Climate Summit, provided US$1 million to help fund the ASR.

School will build required capacity

The statement also quoted Mamadou Biteye, the executive secretary of the ACBF, as saying the ASR will be instrumental in guiding Africa towards a sustainable energy transition. “The ASR will build the required capacities, create an environment for innovative solutions to regulation challenges, and an ecosystem for increased investments.

“Central to this vision is fostering skills development, knowledge sharing, and sustainable jobs, including focusing on the representation of women and young people in a field typically dominated by men,” Biteye said.

According to the statement, the transition to a sustainable energy model in Africa – including universal access and climate change and the growing presence of decentralised energy resources during a much-needed industrialisation process – requires novel approaches to policy, regulation, technology, innovation and the skills to achieve that goal.

“Education in these matters is urgently needed to address these challenges in a wide range of fields across the electricity, clean cooking and heating value chains. Regulation stands out as an applied field of knowledge – blending engineering, economics and law – which is essential to guide the African countries in designing and implementing this transition.”