I participated in the 2019 IEEE PowerAfrica Conference (August 20-23) in Abuja at three levels of engagement: as a member of the organizing committee, a researcher and an IEEE Smart Village awardee.
As a member of the organizing committee, I worked as the Digital Publicity Chair and Publicity Co-Chair. I was responsible for the the implementation of a publicity strategy that covered Africa, Europe and the Middle East (IEEE Region 8) over an eight-month period. I also led the engagement of foreign and local media organizations for conference publicity. In the end, due to the combined efforts of the conference leadership and volunteers, we had more than 300 delegates from 38 countries in attendance. I appreciate the Publicity Chair (Engr Isaac Adekanye) who gave me a free rein.
I also presented two first-authored papers. The first on the solutions to challenges hampering renewable microgrid expansion across energy-impoverished Sub-Sahara Africa. We proposed cogent lessons drawn from several failed and successful projects implemented in the recent past across the region. The second paper was a review of energy efficiency in unmanned aircraft systems.
The IEEE Smart Village (ISV) program was the most stimulating part of the conference for me. While the conference spanned three days, ISV was a six-day intensive program. ISV is a flagship intervention of the IEEE Foundation to solve the problems of energy, entrepreneurship and education in underserved communities across the globe. Several ISV ambassadors, leaders and partners from more than fifteen countries in Africa, Europe, North America and Asia were present to share their experiences, provide updates on their projects and receive guidance and support from the ISV leadership. I learned of pitfalls that almost everyone working on the theme topics could make and how to avoid them. The knowledge shared, lessons learned and network created will remain valuable in my quest to see green energy and sustainable development thrive in Africa. Thanks to Robin Podmore, Rajan Kapur, Dave Kankam and Michael Wilson for such outstanding work and passion. Quoting Robin, “If I were still a young man I wouldn’t leave New Zealand where I grew up for the United States. There are now bigger and more exciting opportunities in the villages than in the cities. We need to encourage our young people to stay in the villages and solve the challenges there.”
Many may never know the amazing extensive, life-changing work that IEEE is doing in Africa through IEEE PES, IEEE Smart Village, IEEE SIGHT and IEEE HAC. However, this conference distilled all those levels of engagement.
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