Prof Izael Da Silva

Prof. Izael Pereira Da Silva

Deputy Vice Chancellor,
Research and Innovation,
Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya.

Date: Wednesday 26th August, 2020

Session: 0830-0900 GMT(UTC)


Prof.  Izael Pereira Da Silva has a PhD in Power Systems Engineering from the University of Sao Paulo (Brazil). He is also a Certified Energy Manager (CEM). At present he is a Professor at Strathmore University and the Deputy Vice Chancellor – Research and Innovation. He is the Director of the Strathmore Energy Research Centre, SERC. The centre does training, research, testing and consultancy in energy related topics. His topics of interest are: Rural Electrification, Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Policy, Sustainable Environment and Demand Side Management.

In March 2012 Prof Da Silva together with other partners won a project sponsored by DFID and DANIDA and managed by the World Bank to set up the first Climate Innovation Centre (CIC) in the world. It is housed in Strathmore and serves SMEs financially and technically to solve challenges posed by the adverse impact of climate change either by mitigation or adaptation. Prof Da Silva has written quite extensively in the field of energy.

In 2013 he was honoured by the Brazilian Government with the title of “Comendador da Ordem do Rio Branco” for his services towards education and poverty alleviation in Africa. In October 2014, after more than one year of efforts together with seven other colleagues he managed to get the Association of Energy Engineers – AEE to approve the Association of Energy Professionals (Eastern Africa) as a chapter of AEE for the five countries of East Africa plus Ethiopia and South-Sudan. Prof Da Silva is the first elected President and founding member of the AEP(EA).

Keynote Abstract

About 1.1 billion people in the world have no access to electricity. More than half of this number are located in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Except for the oil rich countries in the North and South Africa in the South, practically all other countries in the African continent are electricity deficient.
When the United Nations launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of them was SDG7 which aims at getting access to reliable, clean and affordable electricity for all.
Out of the five continents Africa is the most affected in this matter. This study hopes to give an overview of the problem and offer some solutions which could eventually see the realization of this Goal by 2030.
To start with one has to situate Africa in this context. The continent has 1.2 billion people and the rate of procreation is on average 4.5 children per woman. If this trend continues, it is estimated that by 2050 Africa’s population will be 2.5 billion making the African 25% of humanity. Because of the lack of electricity the continent is quite poor because without electricity it is very difficult to engage in income generating activities. Today the GDP of Africa, with its 1.2 billion people is smaller than the one of France which has only 66 million people.
Three mega-trends are at work in Africa and we need to consider them as boundary conditions for the above problem. They are: moving from fossil fuel to renewable energy; moving from mostly large, government supported power plants to a mix of those together with mini-grids and off-grid solutions supported by the private sector and finally the urbanization movement which will see 25% of the rural population moving to cities.
Within the above mentioned situation, in order to further the cause of educating this amazing number of young people we need to use the triple helix concept where the Government, the Private Sector and Academia work together, each providing their unique contribution towards the accomplishment of the SDG number seven.
Four are the ingredients of the success of this venture: A paradigm shift on the finance of such task which will see all together trying to establish business which will financially sustainable; the government ability to provide transparency and mitigate risks for investors; the concerted effort to get a large amount of people trained such that they can provide support to the sector and finally the digitalization of the electricity industry in a multidisciplinary fashion such that lawyers, IT professionals and business people will join the engineers to craft solutions which are viable in all its aspect.
As a last idea, which is essential part of the feasibility of the above, is what I can “the human factor”. No law, statutes or technology by itself can solve this very articulated problem. What is needed are people. Trained, passionate and committed to the common good above self. We have a number of people we can cite as examples: Steve Job, Yunus Mohammed, Bill Clinton, Madre Teresa, etc. Those are people who possessed the three above mentioned features and who relentlessly struggled until they achieved their dream and as a consequence changed the planet. We need a few dozen of them in Africa to bring to everyone the blessing of modern types of energy.