The Micro-Grid Academy: enabling young Africans to build a brighter and greener tomorrow

RES4Africa Foundation
3 min readSep 30, 2021


Africa’s youth is a great resource in meeting the challenges of the energy transition. This is why Enel Green Power supports initiatives like the Micro-Grid Academy, as Lamberto Dai Pra’, our head of the Africa, Asia and Oceania area, explains.

The future of life on our planet will depend on the young generation, and this is particularly true of Africa which, in demographic terms at least, is the world’s youngest continent. An estimated 75% of its inhabitants are under the age of 35 and by the year 2030 it should host a quarter of the world’s under-25 population. In addition to being deeply committed to the energy transition, Enel Green Power is a firm believer in both the potential of Africa and of youth in general and that is why we give our full support to the RES4Africa Foundation and its Micro-Grid Academy.


Enel Green Power was in fact one of the founders of RES4Africa, which was set up 2012 with the motto “A brighter and greener future for Africa.” We likewise played an important role when the Foundation opened its Micro-Grid Academy in Nairobi, Kenya in 2018.

The Academy endeavors to provide “capacity building.” It trains young Africans to plan, manage and maintain mini-grids powered by renewable sources. The academy places a strong emphasis on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Developments Goals or SDGs and aims to make the energy transition as inclusive as possible. It nurtures young technicians, entrepreneurs and engineers, providing theoretical and practical guidance on energy access and decentralized solutions for renewable energy use. Some 200 students a year complete its courses and so far more than 1000 have graduated.

The Academy may be located in Kenya, but its students come from several African nations. In addition to education, the Academy focuses on impact and empowerment. As with other academic institutions, it tries to build an alumni network so that graduates can exchange peer-to-peer experience and knowledge. The academy also runs classes on job opportunities, soft and business skills, and entrepreneurship issues, with a view to helping support youth access to the local job market. It also works closely with the Africa Women Energy Entrepreneurs Framework (AWEEF) and Ethiopian Women in Energy (EwiEn).

The MGA Young Talent of the Year Award

Innovation plays a vital role in the renewable energy sector and that is also the case for the Micro-Grid Academy. This is particularly evident in its MGA Young Talent of the Year Award, which recently had its second edition. The winning projects, all of which use solar power, are a splendid reflection of what the Academy is trying to achieve. The competition attracted 50 contestants, who came from Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. The three winners, whose projects each received prizes for €5,000, were: Adekoyo Ifeoluwapo Kuye, a 26-year-old Nigerian, and two Kenyans, Alex Makawilla, 31, and Benson Kibiti, 34.

Adekoyo Ifeoluwapo Kuye’s project offers a solar-powered cold storage system for farmers. It was developed for Manamuz Ltd in Enugu, which is building a chain logistics system and creating a digital platform that will shorten the supply chain. Alex Makawilla’s project, on the other hand, focuses on the design and production of light electric tricycles (Try.kes) featuring a PV module and an onboard data management system. The bike can carry a payload of 250 kg, has a range of 50–60 km and can reach a speed of 25 mph on a single charge. And Benson Kibiti came up with an ecological solution for Nairobi’s 100,000 or so street food vendors, offering them solar-powered energy in the place of charcoal. The Halisi Trolley, which was developed by the Zuhuru Solutions startup, provides them with both heating and lighting, while the surplus energy can be used for charging phones and powering LED lights.

A message for COP26

The timing of the awards was also significant. They were presented as part of the African Youth Led Summit on Climate Change and Renewable Energy on September 28. This included a debate on energy and climate change, involving RES4Africa and other networks, such as IRENA, SEforALL, ARE, AWEEF, SdG#7 Youth Constituency and the European Youth Energy Network. The debate culminated in the production of a “Final Youth Agenda.”

The event was part of the build-up to next month’s COP 26 in Glasgow. We hope that the world’s leaders are listening to what members of the younger generation, in Africa and elsewhere, have to say. At Enel Green Power we certainly are.

Lamberto Dai Pra’

Head of Asia, Africa and Oceania at Enel Green Power



RES4Africa Foundation

A brighter and greener future for Africa.