Some 30 young people drawn from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda gathered in Karen, Nairobi, last week for a training organized by UN-Habitat called ‘Hands-on training course on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technologies for Youth Empowerment’.

The training, running from 8 to 12 July 2013 was held by UN-Habitat in conjunction with the Climate Action Programme for Schools and Youth (CAPSAY).

It addressed the need to engage young people and enable them to become active proponents of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies within their communities.

Constituting the majority of the African population, empowering the youth to participate in activities focusing on resource efficiency and renewable urban energy uptake, are key to the achievement of sustainable development.

The 30 youth who passed the training are now able to build solar lanterns, install small biogas systems, set up briquette production in order to reduce consumption of charcoal and firewood, build improved cook stoves; and assemble and install solar bulb lights. They are expected to use their newly acquired skills to improve the energy situation of their urban communities and potentially set up green technology businesses.

Those who benefitted from the training expressed high optimism that they would put their newly acquired skills to good use for the betterment of their communities and recommended that UN-Habitat should replicate the hands-on course to empower more youth in cities of developing countries.

Muhammed Kisirisa who is from Uganda’s Action for Fundamental Change and Development said: “The young people around the world have insufficient job skills to compete in today’s labour market, which is leading to massive unemployment. Without jobs the youth don’t have any hope.”

The young man, also known as the ‘Slum Ambassador’ added that his organization, which works in one of the most difficult slum areas in Kampala, Uganda, strives to empower the young people with advocacy skills to access employment or start up their own initiatives.

Another beneficiary, Gladys Wambuku, of Climate Action Team ‘Green Platinum’ from Naivasha, Kenya was also upbeat over the training stating the learning on the improved cook stove and the assembling of the solar lantern; “actually the solar energy is amazing! I will build more solar lanterns with my group after the workshop.”

Finally, Alphonse Karenzi of Sustaining Rwanda Youth Organization said that after leaving the workshop he was going to ‘go more green’ and reduce the amount of energy he is currently using. “The innovative energy solutions that I learnt about are applicable locally in Rwanda, such as biogas and the improved cooking stove,” he said.