Young people at the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) expressed dismay at the lack of funding opportunities to scale up their renewable energy innovations.
“We’ve many ideas but we need money to make them see the light of day. Zimbabwe is a third world country. It is poor and there are no opportunities for us to advance our ideas,” said one participant during a Green Forum Discussion hosted by Action 24, a Hivos Southern Africa partner under the Green and Inclusive Energy programme.
The dialogue session titled, “The Role of Academia in Stimulating Active Youth Participation in Renewable Energy Issues and National Processes in Zimbabwe,” focused on empowering young entrepreneurs to become active proponents of renewable energy approaches.
In addition, the dialogue session aimed at encouraging young people to influence behavioural change among their peers and across their communities. The dialogue session was premised on the idea that students at the technology institute can lead the nation’s efforts to transition to 100 percent renewable energy.
In Zimbabwe, access to modern energy is very low, casting doubts on the country’s efforts at sustainable development, which energy experts say is not possible without renewable energy.
The country has abundant renewable energy sources, most of which are yet to be fully utilised, and energy experts say that exploiting these critical sources is key in closing the existing supply and demand gap, while also accelerating access to green energy.
“Our interest is in getting young people to become knowledgeable enough to make a contribution to the green energy agenda. The green development pathway has opened up numerous opportunities that young people need to be aware of. No country can move forward if it leaves its youth behind,” said Archieford Chemhere, CEO of Action 24.
Kudzai Ndinadzo, a representative from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Climate, gave an overview of the Zimbabwean government’s stance on climate change, and emphasized the need for young people to play an active role in the green agenda.
“If you come up with a technology that is clean, you are contributing to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Young people embody the energy, creativity and innovation that is key to the renewable energy sector,” he said.
Hivos Southern Africa’s Project Manager for Renewable Energy, Reginald Mapfumo, urged the students to seriously invest their skills in renewable energy technologies and innovations because it represents the future.
“There is a phenomenal increase in energy jobs. The trend will continue over the next decade so it is important that you position yourselves to take full advantage of the opportunities that abound,” said Mapfumo.
Other partners in the Green and Inclusive Energy programme in Zimbabwe include Development Reality Institute, Media Institute of Southern Africa, Zimbabwe Environmental Regional Organization, and Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network.
To push the transition towards green and inclusive energy systems, Hivos, ENERGIA, IIED and national civil society organisations (CSOs), are partnering with the Dutch government in a five-year advocacy and lobby programme. The programme kicked off in 2016 and aims to influence energy policies and practices by executing effective lobby and advocacy strategies.