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  • Writer's pictureBolaji Akinola-Alli

Energy Flows

"Energy is the oxygen of the economy and the life-blood of growth, particularly in the mass industrialisation phase that emerging giants are facing today" - Peter Voser

As a generation living in the internet age, we have access to so much information, it's ridiculous. Within a few clicks on the internet, we can learn so much about any topic, including what our favourite celebrities are up to.


One of the things I like to do in my spare time is to watch interviews of famously successful people to understand how they think and hopefully learn a few things from them. I actually imagine myself behind the cameras, watching Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey having a chat on stage. And the crazy part is that, with the rate of technology innovation, we are not far away from this concept with virtual and augmented reality.


So one day, instead of watching Big Bang Theory, which I find absolutely hilarious, I decided to watch an interview of one of my GOATs, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank who said:

Energy is like blood in the life of an economy - it is the key to getting businesses to work whether you're in the banking sector, the agriculture sector, or mining sector, and whether you're a large company, small or medium-sized enterprise. - Dr Akinwumi Adesina

This was my aha! moment.


Although I always knew I was interested in the energy space, I struggled to articulate the reason why.


My experience in other sectors like financial services and security only contributed towards this inbuilt passion to build solution in the energy sector. So hearing Dr. Akinwunmi's statement helped me to articulate what already existed within me.

A wise king once wrote:

The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out. - Proverbs 20:5

Being aware that passion is dynamic, today I believe my passion is in:

using business and technology to empower people with the tools to improve their quality of life themselves. 

And I strongly believe that energy and the internet are massive enablers for economic development in Africa, and that is why I won't shut up about it.


If you have read any of my previous posts and have made it this far reading this one, you are probably wondering when I am going to introduce an analogy.


Well, the wait is over - I am going to use Dr. Akinwunmi and Peter Voser's concept of energy being the lifeblood of the economy, to explain why I am excited about the energy sector.


Ready, set, go.

 

Firstly, energy exists in different forms, from chemical energy stored in food to electric charges powering your television, but for the sake of this post I am going to simplify it to electricity.


Electricity can be compared to blood in our bodies, as both are essential to the proper functioning of our system. Just as blood is necessary for the functioning of our organs, muscles, and tissues, electricity is vital to the functioning of our homes, businesses, and industries.


In the human body, blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, a soft spongy material inside the bone cavities. [1]

In our society, we have electricity generation plants that 'produce' electricity. Produce in quotation marks - because my science friends will appreciate that energy cannot be created nor destroyed but can only be transferred from one form to another.


So electricity actually comes from other sources of energy like solar energy from the sun, kinetic energy from water flow, thermal energy etc.

Simply put, you cannot make energy, you can only transform it from one form into a desired form.

With an increase with the world's population, urbanisation and industrialisation, we are witnessing an increased demand in electricity. This demand must be met with the need to take care of our planet by investing in cleaner energy solutions such as wind, solar, and hydropower, which are sustainable and environmentally friendly.


The energy sector is so interconnected that it affects multiple facets of our lives from the way we move around (electric vehicles) to the devices we buy (energy efficient devices). Hence there is no single solution to tackling the issue of carbon emissions and climate change. The answer is a complex mix of different technologies, policies and funding. - And that is what makes it exciting!


If you would like to learn more about the energy transition in Africa, check out my podcast: Africa's Big Switch.


"We are your plug to the ideas and solutions that are transforming Africa. We connect you to entrepreneurs, operators, investors and policymakers creating innovative solutions that further Africa's development." -Africa's Big switch
 

So back to the human body analogy, the main functions of red blood cells are to [1]:

  • carry oxygen from the lungs to the body tissues

  • carry carbon dioxide as a waste product away from the tissues and back to the lungs.

When oxygen reaches your muscles, they help to activate the energy within them, resulting in carbon dioxide. That is why the more we exercise the more oxygen our body needs to replace the energy we expel.[2]


What about the heart? - Well the heart is responsible for pumping blood around the body through the veins and arteries.

In electricity speak, the cables you see by the road side serve as the arteries, taking electricity from the point of generation to our homes, businesses and industries. Sometimes these cables are hidden underground so they are not obvious.


So when electricity gets to your house it is 'consumed' by powering our electrical applicances. Notice that I used consumed in quotation marks, because energy cannot be destroyed, but only converted to other forms. So in the case of our TVs, it is sound energy and electromagnetic radiation, for our toasters it is heat, and for our vehicles it is chemical energy.

 

In conclusion, the analogy between electricity and life-blood highlights the essential role that electricity plays in our daily lives and emphasises the need to prioritize its availability and sustainability. Just as we take care of our bodies by staying healthy and nourished, we must take care of our electricity systems by investing in the right policy frameworks, innovative technologies and financial structure.


That is how we can ensure a healthy and sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.

“Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” - Gro Harlem Brundtland

 


References


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