“Bigger and better” is how all concerned describe this year’s African Utility Week and the co-located Clean Power Africa that took place in Cape Town from 14-15 May at the CTICC.  The 13th conference and exhibition was attended by nearly 5000 power and water professionals from more than 60 countries, 27 of them African, at what was the largest utility gathering of its kind on the continent.  

As in previous years, the event, which is organised by Cape Town-based Spintelligent, made news headlines, while global sponsors such as MTN, Symbion Power, Ernst & Young and Bentley Systems were among the many technology giants at the utility expo.  

Eskom Chief Executive Brian Dames once again was the keynote speaker, saying African Utility Week “has become an annual pilgrimage on the calendar of African electricity and water utilities, and as Eskom we are proud to have been a part of it for the past 13 years."   Guest speaker, South Africa’s Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, addressed the opening session bringing attention to the nexus between water and power.  

A truly international show
Says a beaming event director Russell Hughes:  “we now have a truly international show.  We had the biggest expo to date with 10900m² in floor space for 220 exhibitors and sponsors, many of whom were already queuing up during the event to rebook larger exhibition space for when they return next year.”

He continues:  “this year we have greatly expanded our practical offering for visitors with a selection of 60 free-to-attend, CPD-accredited technical workshops on the expo floor.  This proved hugely popular and the workshops were crowded as they offered practical take home solutions, demonstrations and practice installation opportunities for electricians, engineers and other power professionals in the metering, water, transmission and distribution, smart grids, hydro and renewable energy sectors.  At some workshops, attendees were standing four deep in the aisles to hear the presentations.”

Utility CEO Forum
Another first for African Utility Week this year was the exclusive Utility CEO Forum which brought together the utility heads from more than a dozen African countries, including Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Namibia and Uganda to discuss strategic goals, regional cooperation, utility reform and reputation management.

According to Claire Volkwyn, the programme director:  “the inaugural Utility CEO Forum was a great success with in-depth, open discussion between the various CEOs around collaboration and cooperation across a number of platforms.  It was particularly good to see the robust, good natured disagreements as it highlighted an opportunity for diverse opinions to be shared and discussed.  We are very excited about the next CEO Forum and to taking these discussions forward.”

Volkwyn says there was equally good feedback regarding the conference programme:  “I was very happy with the interaction between presenters and audience this year, and thrilled that this programme, which is representative of the major challenges facing the power sector in Africa, was so well received by the delegates.  The feedback from the attendees for both the conference sessions, and technical programme, has been very positive.”  

More positive feedback from sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and delegates at African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa: 

  • “Symbion Power wanted to launch their South African entity called Symbion PNC at AUW this year.  We could not have been happier with the media and PR exposure we received at the event and through our sponsorship of the CEO Forum.  We had a great location in terms of our booth and many visitors.  AUW provided us with a total solution and quality service.”  – Paul Hinks, CEO, Symbion Power – platinum sponsors
  • "Africa is on the Move….  African Utility Week this past week in Cape Town just, just gave a real glimpse that the energy divide in Africa can be leapfrogged by 2030!  The urgency and the seriousness with which utility company executives are starting to treat the challenge of providing access to acceptable, affordable energy in an accountable manner is encouraging."  – Norman Ndaba:  Global Client Services Partner (GCSP), Director: Power & Utilities, Ernst & Young – platinum sponsors
  • “2013 was the best year since we joined the exhibition and conference.  With the merging of Clean Power Africa and African Utility Week, it allowed us an enlarged audience and market segments.  We will be back next year.”  –  Dean Pratt, Regional Manager Africa, MarelliMotori – platinum sponsors
  • “We have never met a more helpful, friendly and approachable bunch.  It was without a doubt the most professionally co-ordinated conference we have encountered in the 15 years of our business’ existence.”  –  Ingrid Lotze, puruma/join the dots – Africa outreach partner, Zayed Future Energy Prize, gold sponsors
  • “African Utility Week provided an excellent platform from which to engage with downstream players in the photovoltaic sector. We are delighted to see that South Africa is committed to developing renewable energy and PV in particular and hope that we may see the market grow to the Gigawatt scale in the future.”  – Stephan Padlewski, Marketing Manager, DuPont Photovoltaic Solutions –  silver sponsors
  • “Africa Utility Week 2013 was a great success for Lucy Electric SA. It is the first time we have taken an enquiry and received an order at any conference and to make things better it was from an African neighbouring country!”  – Rick St.John, Regional Director, Lucy Switchgear – silver sponsors
  • “Enjoyed every moment of AUW 2013. Site visit was a value add and the wine farm visit was magic.  Looking forward to AUW 2014.”  – André Olivier, Anglo Gold Ashanti, conference delegate
  • “I must congratulate you guys on a well organised event.  Its standard and quality really meet, if not exceed, some of the international conferences I have attended abroad.  Keep up the good work.”  – Michael Rhode, Drakenstein Municipality and past president of the AMEU, conference delegate
  • “The calibre of speakers and your planning was most impressive as was the general standard of the exhibitions. I am proud to be associated with an event like this.”  – Alf Hartzenburg, Industrial Energy Efficiency Project, CSIR, speaker

African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa will return to the CTICC in Cape Town next year from 13-14 May.  

About African Utility Week
African Utility Week brings together the entire ecosystem for the African water and power sector, from high level government representatives, utilities and municipalities, regulators and power pools to consultants, vendors, service providers and energy intensive power users for the purpose of sharing and determining the future development of Africa’s power industry.

Website:  www.african-utility-week.com  and www.clean-power-africa.com

Communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Telephone:  +27 21 700 3558
mobile:  +27 82 562 7844
Email:  annemarie.roodbol@clarionevents.com