Energy is (or it should be), a common good, universally shared and equally distributed. Yet, its management and development has been a traditional prerogative of some specific professional figures: engineers, technicians, managers, and a handful of other categories.
The world, however, is changing fast and, with it, the place renewable energy occupies in the public debate. Just 20 years ago, it was considered a sort of Cinderella: a nice tale to tell for some quick greenwashing…but few were the visionaries who were keen to step up, tirelessly promoting the benefits of sustainable power, despite widespread skepticism.
Decades later, many things have changed: renewable energy and sustainability are no longer taboo, and the inheritance of those few who pioneered is being promoted by a wider number of passionate professionals. Among them, there's the protagonist of today's story: Esther Githinji.
As she grew up, Esther realised her life would have been dedicated to a greater good: serving the cause of what is right, no matter what, pursuing a career in the justice system with passion and resolution: "Since I was young I aspired to be a Judge […]. I later went to higher levels of education and learned I had to study law, qualify and practice for some years to be a judge".
Nevertheless, Esther's future wasn't meant to comprise stark courthouses, passionate closing statements, and defendants looking for a way to prove their innocence. No, her battle for justice is fought on another terrain, a difficult and vast one, where there's no single culprit and where the final purpose is far more crucial than locking up a defendant: preserving our world and, with it, our future.
We are, of course, talking about the global strives against climate change, which Esther decided to join almost ten years ago: "In the 4th year of my undergraduate studies, I took a course in energy law where my interest in renewable energy was piqued. It was intriguing and had an environmental aspect. I did not know much about the sector at that point and I was about to later discover how engrossing it would be.".
The ever-growing ranks of sustainability had just acquired a new, brilliant recruit.
Designing a PV plant, building a new wind farm, negotiating an effective procurement channel for the renovation of a water dam. Nowadays, none of these operations make headlines anymore, as renewable energy is a growing sector, attracting a great deal of investments and resources. Nevertheless, if the situation is so promising, it's thanks to the constant and discreet effort of those who, day by day, word by word, cultivate the public debate around it, creating awareness, building a common consciousness and, ultimately, laying the foundations for real change to happen.
These silent heroes are tirelessly working to make the African institutional spheres and civil society every day more aware and keener to work for the energy transition, applying new, dedicated measures, and increasing the amount of renewables implemented locally.
At this point, however, a question might spontaneously arise: how does a lawyer become an advocate of renewable energy? The answer is carved into Esther's past and vocation: "On finishing my postgraduate diploma in law and pupillage period in 2021 […] I applied to be a blog editor at Clean Energy 4 Africa […] and I got involved in various activities with the organization that involved high-level discussions on energy transition pursuits in Kenya and across the continent of Africa. [Plus], I found myself in a wider spectrum, addressing issues on energy access, energy poverty, climate change, environmental sustainability, renewable energy innovations and youth empowerment".
Clean Energy 4 Africa(CE4A): does this name ring a bell? If it does, you can skip right away to the next paragraph. Otherwise, we'll just tell you that Esther's path had just become Intertwined with the one followed by an old acquaintance of RES4Africa…
"Dr. Mohamed, the founder and director of CE4A, now the Chairman of the Youth Task Force informed me of the opening to be part of the RES4Africa Youth Task Force. I was delighted with the opportunity and submitted my name for consideration”.
After attending the Micro-Grid Academy and thanks to the networking intuition of Dr. Mohamed Alhaj, Esther became a crucial member of the Youth Task Force, "Promoting activities and initiatives in my networks, and fostering debates and discussions among youth networks about shaping the future of the energy transition". She also became part of the evaluation committee of the MGA Young Talent of the Year Award 2022, bringing to fruition a long path of growth, effort and empowerment.
With this collaboration, RES4Africa has gained a new, unmissable talent committed to the energy transition, and Esther has found a concrete framework to bring to fruition her idea of awareness about a sustainable future for Africa. A mission that she pursues through a vast array of different endeavours, as she now "offers legal services […] participates in renewable energy policy and regulatory framework formulation in Kenya […] conducts legal and market research, and develops partnerships between renewable energy organisations".
A true volcano of ideas, efforts and dedication: someone might even say, with a touch of irony, that the true ever-renewable energy is, in fact, the one that powers up Esther.
“I envision green-centered developments, and low carbon and resource-efficient economies in Africa. I wish to see the continued government lead sustainable initiatives and community countries working together on initiatives to promote green economies in the region. I believe the use of renewable energy will enable productivity improvements and the enjoyment of the associated benefits, for example environmental protection”.
Esther's vision about Africa's future is clear and well-structured, as it comes from years of debate, observation and field work. In the upcoming years, youth will play an irreplaceable role in the energy transition., "Youth house great innovations that can be used to accelerate the sustainable energy transition. Incubations hubs should be created to support and encourage such innovations”.
The contribution of young Africans is therefore a solid cornerstone of a brighter and greener future, and it must be promoted and valorised not only when it comes to technical innovations, but also in "[…] decision-making and policymaking. Participating in such processes will empower them to hold discussions, influence understanding and cause implementation in their communities.”.
In other words, it's time to drastically reshape the REs-dedicated institutions and to bring a breath of fresh air into them, revamping their composition and procedures, and finally giving back to young Africans the future of their land.
With people like Esther on the field, this dream looks a bit more real.