Investment in youth key for Mena’s energy transition

THE region can emerge as a leader in energy transition with the right investment in its youth population, observed experts in Manama yesterday.

Senior researchers asserted that the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region can play a key role in technological advancement in renewable energy.

They were speaking at the two-day 5th Annual Derasat Forum and 2nd MENA International Association for Energy Economies (IAEE) Symposium which opened at The Art Hotel and Resort in Amwaj Islands.

Energy leaders from across the world are attending the forum organised by Derasat in co-operation with the IAEE, Saudi Association for Energy Economics (SAEE) and King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre (KAPSARC).

“We will not only have to depend on the natural resources, but will have to invest in our human capital,” said KAPSARC research vice-president Dr Fahad Alturki.

“We have seen progress in building our knowledge industry; there are so many accredited research and technology institutions in the region.

“A combination of knowledge centres and investment in human capital and natural resources can make the region a leader in energy transition.”

Derasat studies and research director Dr Omar Al Ubaidly endorsed Dr Alturki’s views, adding that the investments must be ensured.

“The reality is that the demographic pyramids in the Gulf and in the Mena region is tilted towards the youth,” he told the GDN.

“But for those youth to be able to contribute to their potential, they need to have the right skills and they need to have the right qualifications.

“So, we need the right training and human capital, building institutions.”

Dr Al Ubaidly added it was vital to ensure there’s equality of opportunity so that those who do get the skills are able to use them.

Meanwhile, other speakers discussed the Mena region as a technological leader in green energy and the circular carbon economy (CCE).

Khalifa University Research and Development senior vice-president Dr Steven Griffiths, Beirut University Economics associate professor Dr Leila Dagher and Jordan Renewable Energy Investment Society director Jamal Nawaiseh discussed the international policies and practices that support the CCE and its impact on both the environment and economy.

Also debated was the region’s current contribution to green energy and CCE research and development.

“The panel affirmed that the GCC and the Mena region can play a positive role in technology advancement in renewable energies,” said Dr Al Ubaidly.

A session on artificial intelligence (AI) and energy transition in the region featured Arab Renewable Energy Commission secretary Mohammed Al Ta’ani, Unesco Science Report 2020 advisory board member Professor Jelel Ezzine, Sustainable Energy and Corporate Strategy head at Saudi software company nybl Rami Osman and Derasat research fellow Dr Abdulla Al Abbasi.

“AI has gone from being a sort of space-age novelty technology to being something that’s very mainstream and it can play an active role in improving the performance of renewable energy solutions,” said Dr Al Ubaidly.




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