Capacity development is considered to play a central role in delivering progress on energy access. Lack of capacity is in fact considered one of the major barriers for the development of decentralized renewable energy projects in developing countries, and it occurs at all the stages of the energy access value chain.
Capacity development can be defined as “the process through which individuals, organizations and societies obtain, strengthen and maintain the capabilities to set and achieve their own development objectives over time.” Capacity development, when it is localized and contextualized, can really increase the ownership of the communities on their own development path, leading to more sustainable economic growth, creation of socio-economic opportunities and more cohesive societies.
As outlined in a report published by the Institute for the Study of Labour and funded by the European Commission on youth employment in developing countries, a youth focus within the employment and development debate is warranted for a number of reasons. Among these, we find the following particularly relevant to mention:
- Youth employment outcomes have spillovers across society, affecting social and political stability, and to future generations.
- Today’s youth population is the largest the world has ever seen. The size of the challenge and economic burden is therefore unprecedented.
- Vulnerable groups of youth stand to lose out in today’s environment of fierce competition for scarce jobs, exacerbating inequality within current youth cohorts.
As the report explains, in fact, low unemployment rate is not necessarily an indicator of healthy job market, because it does not take into account the vulnerable employment rates in the formal and informal sectors.
According to UNEP, in 2015 there were 226 millions of youth (15-24) living in Africa, which accounted for 19% of the global youth population. By 2030, this number is projected to increase to 42%. A skilled, empowered and prepared youth is therefore a crucial step towards a really sustainable development.
Moreover, developing countries are often reliant on climate-sensitive natural resources and traditional agricultural practices, that are particularly vulnerable to climate change induced shocks, therefore the co-benefits induced by widespread access to clean energy should be fully exploited.
Therefore, capacitating the next generation of workforce in developing countries with the knowledge and tools to join the universal energy access challenge, is key to shape a fair and sustainable job market, as well as to enable the creation of new business opportunities that will contribute to a sustainable development pathway, mitigating the impact of climate change on environment and economy.
In addition to capacity building, a key component of the wished-for enabling environment for the development of such projects, is to spread awareness about renewables, and the transformational role that can be played by their final usages, in order to promote their adoption and maximize engagement from the bottom up.
EnGreen is getting ready to start in September a training course on renewable energies and electricity in Mali within the project Avenir Brillant (Bright Future), as we anticipated in our previous post ( https://www.engreensolutions.com/avenir-brillant-creating-socio-economic-opportunities-and-strengthening-child-protection-mechanisms-for-potential-migrants-in-transit-and-returning-to-mali/ ).
The course will feature two three weeks long training sessions that will benefit a total of 50 youth that are potential, transiting and returning migrants in the areas of Kayes and Bamako.
We are proud to be in charge of this training component in this wide and articulated project, which is designed to provide youth with socio-economic alternatives and with the necessary knowledge to allow them to make informed migratory choices. EnGreen is eager to start contributing to the Action, with the final aim of benefiting and empowering vulnerable populations, along with Plan International, lead of the consortium, and partners ActionAid Italia, Association Malienne des Expulsès – AME, Environnement et Développement du Mali – Enda Mali, Bureau National Catholique de l’Enfance – Bnce-Mali and Cooperativa Sociale QUID.
The knowledge and skills acquired throughout the course will hopefully be an enabling factor in the development of renewables to contrast energy poverty in the country. The training will help trainees find employment in the existing energy sector, stimulate the creation of new projects and ventures, and possibly foster the creation of entrepreneurial activities.
It is often said that energy access is a prerequisite for sustainable development, and given the many concurrent developmental challenges present in some areas of the country, the trainees can build a case for “walking the talk” in this direction. For example, many regions in the country are extremely vulnerable to climate shocks. Resilience against climate change hazards can be built by adopting a Water-Energy-Food nexus approach, in which energy can power sustainable, effective and productive practices to contrast food insecurity.
 Perez-Arriaga, I., Micangeli, A., & Sisul, M. (2018). Unleashing Sustainable Human Capital through Innovative Capacity Building and Vocational Training: The Micro-Grid Academy Can Unlock the Micro-Grid’s Potential in East Africa. In RES4Med&Africa (Ed.), Unlocking Value from Sustainable Renewable Energy (p. 135). https://www.res4med.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/RES4MEDAfrica_Unlocking-Value-from-Sustainable-Renewable-Energy_2018.pdf
 UNDP, Capacity Development Group, 2009
 IZA Research Report No. 58, Youth Employment in Developing Countries, Janneke Pieters (IZA), October 2013
 UNEP, Population Facts, No. 2015/1, May 2015
 EEP Africa NDF, Energising Resilience. Climate Co-Benefits from Clean Energy Projects, EEP Africa 2020