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New Energy Leadership Centre another first for Africa

- Wits Business School

Wits Business School has launched a new African Energy Leadership Centre (ELC), a first for South Africa and the continent.

The ELC will be a hub of teaching and research aimed at addressing the issues of energy shortages in Africa as well as the skills deficit in an industry which is of vital importance to economic growth on the continent. 

“Africa has vast untapped energy potential and will be one of the fastest growing regions for power demand in the next decade. And yet the region’s development is hampered by energy shortages,” said Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs at Wits University, in his opening address at the launch of the ELC at the Wits Business School (WBS).

Among those attending the launch was Maurice Radebe, Deputy Vice President: Energy and Sustainability at Sasol and Norman Ndaba, Partner: Africa Power & Utilities Sector Lead: Advisory Services at EY, both of whom were key drivers of the initiative from an industry perspective.

“There is a scarce skills crisis in the energy sector which must be addressed. The energy workforce is aging, and fewer young skilled workers are entering the industry as access to energy training and education is limited. In fact, many have to go overseas to receive training which is very costly,” said Dr Rod Crompton, newly-appointed Director of the ELC. 

“Energy in Africa is increasingly being provided by the private sector and we need to equip future leaders to manage the challenges of this burgeoning sector, an environment which is becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent,” he said. 

Crompton explained that the ELC will offer both a Postgraduate Diploma and a Masters degree in Energy Leadership, as well as executive education short courses and seminars, and that the Centre will engage with historically disadvantaged research universities across Africa.

Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Wits University, sits together with Raakshani Sing, Executive Manager at CHIETA during the signing ceremony of Africa’s first Energy Leadership Centre (ELC), officially launched at the Wits Business School. They are flanked by Dr Rod Crompton, newly-appointed Director of the ELC (on the left) and Maurice Radebe, Deputy Vice President: Energy and

“I am honoured to be the first director of the first African Energy Leadership Centre and thank all those who have worked hard to get to this day, including the Wits Business School for having the vision, and to our funding partners, the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) who have generously given R5 million towards the Centre," he said.

Raakshani Sing, Executive Manager at CHIETA said, “We are very excited to embark on this partnership with WBS which is in line with our mandate to provide world class education and training in the energy and chemicals sectors. We hope for a long and mutually beneficial partnership towards the growth of the African energy value chain through innovation, transformation and research.” 

Professor Imraan Valodia, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management at Wits said he was thrilled to witness the first step in an ambitious and exciting plan. “I thank Mr Radebe and Mr Ndaba for their commitment to WBS and for freely offering their time and expertise, our partners, CHIETA and to Rod Crompton for accepting the challenge of leading the ELC into the future. He has the drive, knowledge and intellectual gravitas to ensure that the Centre plays a critical role in African energy research and thought leadership.”