Enel Foundation supported the largest gathering of African power industry leaders who recently convened in Cape Town for the 2019 African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa co-located events.
In the framework of a global agreement with event promoter Clarion, Enel Foundation was Global Knowledge Partner of the events and supported the Initiate! programme which virtuously brings PhD and Master level students to interact with established industry leaders and participate in a competition to address relevant challenges for the energy sector.
African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa annual conference and exhibition brought to South Africa more than ten thousand attendees from a total of 82 countries, of which 37 where African. At the multiple conference sessions, professionals from strategic industries discussed the challenges, solutions and best in class examples in the power, energy and water sectors, ranging from: generation (fossil fuels, off grid, nuclear and renewables), Transmission and Distribution (including metering) and new technologies (storage, mini grids, microgrids, IOT and ICT systems).
The event came at a time of unprecedented change within the sector, given the diverse range of energy alternatives now being rolled out across Africa and elsewhere as part of the clean energy transition. The region is keen to adopt new and renewable technology, not only to bolster self-sufficiency and meet clean energy targets, but also to stimulate access to remote populations.
The conference provided a convergence opportunity for actors playing a key role in the development of infrastructure across the continent. The hosting country South Africa, through the presence of high level representatives such as Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, is already taking huge steps to modernise its own energy infrastructure, with a roll out of new generation capacity, while increased international interest is paving the way for new projects across the rest of the continent.
Engaging future leaders in today’s challenges
Enel Foundation also supported Initiate! Impact Challenge, as part of the mentors and panel of judges. Initiate! Impact Challenge is an academic programme that helps connecting new generations of talented students to the challenges and opportunities of energy transition. The challenge took place for the first time in Africa, after successful experiences in European Utility Week.
Four teams of students from Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town, the University of Witwatersrand and Strathmore University were selected and joined the event where they had to develop and propose innovative solutions on electricity access in the continent to a prestigious panel of experts. The teams joined conference sessions, benefitted from individual montorship by the jury members and worked collaboratively in a hackaton-style.
The winning idea came from the Strathmore University team who walked off with a prize money for their innovative concept based on “Uber(ising) solar energy”aimed at providing equitable energy access to remote villages. The team included engineering students Alex Osunga and Raymond Kiyegga as well as Ignatius Maranga and Fredrick Amariati, both of which are also Open Africa 2018 alumni.
João Duarte, Deputy Director of Enel Foundation, attended the event and shared his views on how the partnership between Clarion Energy and Enel Foundation is helping to address the knowledge and gap skills within the African energy industry to achieve energy transition goals.