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According to a recent OECD Economy Survey, Portugal is making concerted progress when it comes to its emissions and sustainable energy goals, but there is still room for further improvement.

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Edition 2, 2019. You can read the magazine’s articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

On the renewables front, successes are slightly more tangible, with Portugal on track to meet a target of 31% renewables dependency by the end of 2020. This blend of sustainable strategy, which has a work-in-progress status, makes Portugal – via its capital, Lisbon – the ideal host for this year’s Africa Energy Forum; an event which similarly champions the strive for an energy evolution.

“Energy supply from renewable sources [in Portugal] increased by almost 70% between 2005 and 2016 and accounted for 55% of electricity generation in 2016,” states Ângelo Ramalho, CEO at Efacec, a Portuguese company facilitating industrial and energy developments on a global scale. “The surge has been driven mainly by the expansion of wind energy generation, which increased 14-fold between 2004 and 2015. OECD predicts that given Portugal’s dependence on imports of fossil fuels, further investment in renewable energy not only has the potential to lower GHG emissions but also to improve energy security.”

According to Ramalho, Efacec has the perfect vantage point, in both overseeing and contributing to Portugal’s energy journey. The company’s proficiency in designing, developing and manufacturing products to cater for the full energy value chain has made it a significant cog in Portugal’s sustainability machine; while its knowledge base and portfolio paints a much more international picture via its role in energy, mobility and environmental projects in more than 90 countries.

With numerous projects backlogged as a result of market appeal, the company has a sustainable future secured in Europe, Latin America, and its homeland of course, and finally – Africa. “From our point of view, the relationship between Portugal and Africa is very positive, based on a logic of partnership, and focused on the development of projects and infrastructures that promote people’s quality of life,” Ramalho continues.

“Portugal has an unquestionable role in the development of much-needed energy infrastructures across several African countries; notably Cape Verde, Angola and Mozambique.” “With an historical presence in these markets, but regardless of our close connection to Portuguese speaking African countries, Efacec aspires to be a relevant player across the entire Continent. To this extent, we are also currently active in other African markets including Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco,” states Ramalho.

Contributing to Africa’s socio-economic development

North Africa has been a significant region for the company since the 1990s, emphasising how widespread the continent’s energy evolution has been. Over the coming years, strong investments are planned across power grids and electrical interconnections in several countries in West, Central and North Africa – especially Morocco, a relative neighbour to Portugal.

“Efacec believes in the high potential of the Moroccan market, which has

increasing levels of investment expected, particularly in solar power plants, electrical substations up to 400kV and the retrofit of hydroelectric power stations,” Ramalho explains. “In addition, investment in wastewater treatment plants is also a trend where Efacec is playing a relevant role with several projects attained in recent years.”

One of the more recent projects won by the company in Morocco occurred in December 2018, with the signing of the contract of the Bouregreg Water Treatment Plant, the largest water treatment plant in Morocco. Meanwhile, in Angola, the company produced and installed the largest and most powerful transformer in the country; in Guinea-Bissau, it won an international public bid for the construction of two substations and a 6.2km link to the new thermal power station; and in Rwanda, the company was selected for the construction of three new 200kV substations.

These examples represent Africa’s rising prominence in the global energy order. “With each project, we are not just providing technical expertise, we are also raising living standards and making significant contributions to the socio-economic development of these African countries,” Ramalho says. “As we think how to operate in any given African country, the word ‘partnership’ is paramount.

Equal partnerships allow knowledge transference and local community learning and empowerment. As years go by, the local utilities are benefiting from those international contractors who come to stay in the country and play a role in the development of the local economy.As a global player in Africa, Efacec continues to live by this partnership spirit by incorporating local content as much as we can.”

Empowering Africa’s future

Partnership has been a recurring theme underpinning the Africa Energy Forum over the years too, and Efacec is excited about the prospect of this year’s event being hosted in Lisbon. “Undoubtedly, it will be a high-level forum to discuss the state-of-the-art and future evolution of the energy sector in Africa,” Ramalho affirms. He goes on to laud Portugal’s event-hosting capabilities and is equally excited at the prospect of networking and learning over the course of the four days, as he is conducting business.

In doing so, the company will continue to enhance its understanding of a continent that it has helped empower and flourish from a power perspective over the years. The company is excited about the future of African energy, especially given the growing investment interest being targeted towards its key regions.

“It is interesting to see increasing interest in Africa from IFIs and this will help foster the pressing infrastructure needs of countries in the region,” Ramalho concludes. “Efacec will keep participating in this process by being an active player in the energy sector, as this is where our heart and legacy is. We want to continue our contribution towards Africa’s economic and social growth – to empower Africa’s future.” ESI

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Edition 2, 2019. You can read the magazine’s articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

About the interviewee

Ângelo Ramalho, the CEO of Efacec, has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto and the PADE – Advanced Management Programme AESE. His extensive professional career, initially in the oil and gas industry, particularly in Shell Portugal, Gás de Portugal and Galp Energia, includes the managing director position at several natural gas distribution companies.

He believes that the energy of his people is the critical factor of success in achieving the projects he leads. Meet with Ramalho at the 21st Africa Energy Forum taking place on 11-14 June in Lisbon, Portugal.