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Aisha Kolawole is originally from Nigeria. She completed her PhD at Oxford Brookes Business School in July 2017 and her thesis title is 'An empirical analysis of energy demand in Sub-Saharan African'.
I got to know about Oxford Brookes University during my undergraduate study days, when I was taking the ACCA examination.
I was first attracted by the advertised research topic on energy issues in Africa. Secondly, was the research profile and experience of my proposed supervisors, who had a number of publications in the field. And lastly, the wide range of useful training and resources available to the University's research students.
I did my master’s degree at the University of East Anglia in Finance and Economics a year before I started my PhD. Before then, I was running a small business in Nigeria, which involved corporate gift branding for a government agency and interior decorations for individuals and organisations.
Settling into the research environment was easy for me as I’d just completed my master’s degree. My supervisors are very supportive and the graduate college workshops have been useful. For instance the 20:20 seminars, the summer school and other research events in the Business School have provided a platform for discussing and hearing about the research projects undertaken by other students and researchers. All of these have made the journey more interesting yet challenging.
The geographical context of my research is Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), which is the part of Africa in the Southern part of the Sahara desert. A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA, 2014) shows that two-third of the total population of 961.5 million in SSA lack access to electricity. This report further states that the traditional use of solid biomass like fuelwood and charcoal used by about 730 million people in the region has led to household air pollution which kill about 600 000 every year. The prevailing energy poverty in the region is in sharp contrast to the abundant energy resources. This includes the abundant renewable energy sources like the hydro in many countries, good solar across most parts, and the geothermal in the East African Rift Valley, all of which have remained under-exploited. Moreover, 13 out of the 47 countries in the region export oil in commercial quantity (KPMG, 2014), which suggests that many countries in the region have abundant non-renewable and renewable energy resources. The above statistics coupled with my personal experience of power rationing and black-outs in Nigeria and more importantly the gap in the existing literature which shows that little is known about the energy demand in SSA informed my interest in this study. The purpose of the study is to undertake an empirical research that provides a reliable estimate and forecast of the energy demand to aid planning of future energy supply in SSA. Considering the fact that energy resources are not equally distributed and most countries in the region have limited capital, some proponents in the field have proposed that regional cooperation, trade and integration of energy could be the best way to reduce energy poverty in the region (Sparrow et al. 2001; World Energy Council, 2005; Rosnes and Vennemo, 2012; IEA Africa Energy Outlook, 2014). A panel cointegration approach will be used for the econometric analysis. This will be done using a model that measures the coefficients of the identified factors using secondary data of the chosen variables in each of the 47 countries in the region. The secondary data will be obtained from reliable and widely used energy and economic databases. The estimated model will be used to know the impact of the relevant factors that influence energy demand in the region, which will help in demand management. The research will also inform policy by clarifying if the approach of regional cooperation and trade of energy is the way forward or self-sufficiency of each country. The findings of the research will be of great interest to academics, policymakers and investors in the region and internationally.
Firstly, I like the fact that the PhD enables me to work on a topic I have a genuine interest in and it gives me the opportunity to investigate energy demand management in Africa. Secondly, I enjoy the relationship that I share with my supervisors. Even at times when I thought something was not achievable they have motivated me through their encouraging words and tight deadlines. This in turn has improved my research skills, writing skills, time management skills and ability to work independently. Lastly, I have also found the inability to predict the final outcome of empirical research fascinating and challenging. This has made me look forward to every step of my research with more interest and curiosity.
The research workshops have been very helpful and useful to different aspects of my research. And personally since most of the skills taught are transferrable, they are useful for whatever I find myself doing. I will also like to state here that the summer school attended at the end of the first year in Turkey is a great and inspiring idea. The feedback and comments received on my research methodology have challenged me to think more critically about how I choose to achieve my research objectives.
To pursue a career in academia, industry or public sector.