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‘The days of cheap power for South Africans are over’

The elecitricity sector in Africa and even worldwide is in a crisis as demand is outstripping supply at an unprecedented rate and utilities need to work smarter, more efficient and integrate technologies to provide cleaner power.  This is according to Claire Volkwyn, project director of the annual African Utility Week conference and exhibition which is taking place from 14-17 March 2011 in Cape Town.  The high-level speaker line-up includes the CEO of Eskom, Brian Dames, and the South African minister of Energy, Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, and many African and international experts will also be there to contribute to the discussions at what is Africa’s largest utility event.

The days of cheap power are over
The African Utility Week programme will focus on the various aspects of the power and water industries, including:  Metering, Smart Grids, Generation, Renewable Energy (including wind and solar power), Water Utilities, a special section for Large Power Users as well as Power Indaba, a high-level power investment and finance forum.  

“The days of cheap power for South Africans are over”, says African Utility Week’s Claire Volkwyn, “as the demand continues to grow, so will the cost to the consumer.”  She continues:  “we need to become smarter about how we use our electricity and there are a number of initiatives which are in place to help both domestic and industrial consumers to use their resource more wisely.”

Utility industry vital to every aspect of our lives
The theme for the 2011 conference is ‘Preparing for the changing utility paradigm’.  Says Claire Volkwyn:  “I think this sums up what utilities need to do at the current time. Our industry is changing and there is a risk of being left behind if we don’t keep up with the changes.”  She notes:  “the utility industry is so vital to every aspect of our lives – without power or water we cease to operate as an executive society, health care suffers, our economy suffers – everything stops. So we have to be prepared for the changes and embrace the evolving nature of the utility industry.”  

Termination of REDs “disappointing”
Following the recent surprise cancellation of planned shared distribution with the closing down of EDI Holdings, Claire says this decision was inevitable:  “While it is disappointing that the REDs have been terminated it makes sense as this initiative had been in process for more than 10 years and we were no closer to a solution to this problem than previously. I believe we need to find a South African solution to this issue, and seek other alternatives. “

More programme highlights:

  • Sustainable development in Africa: Understanding the role of power and water
    Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, Kenya*
  • The role of advanced technology in securing Africa’s economic future
    Guido Bartels, Chairman, GridWise Alliance, United States of America
  • Panel discussion: Developing an African Integrated Resource Plan
    • Jasper Oduor, Executive Secretary, Eastern African Power Pool, Ethiopia
    • Lawrence Musaba, Co-ordination Centre Manager, Southern African Power Pool, Zimbabwe
    • Guido Bartels, Chairman, GridWise Alliance, United States Of America
    • Erica Johnson, Chief Officer – Customer Network Business, Eskom, South Africa*
    • Abel Tella, Secretary General, UPDEA, Ivory Coast*
    • Joseph Makoju, Chairman, West African Power Pool, Nigeria*
  • African industry accolades: Awards Programme
    • Industry Chief Executive Officer of the Year Award (5th year)
    • Power Station of the Year Award (7th year)
    • Metering International Excellence Awards (10th year)


11 years of lighting the continent
African Utility Week has been the industry’s leading power utility conference for the past 11 years.  “African Utility Week gives key leaders and industry professionals from across the continent the opportunity to share best practise, experiences, technology and discuss policy issues which affect the entire continent or even a specific region” says Claire Volkwyn.  “We have helped facilitate many millions of dollars worth of deals by bringing together the buyers of services with the sellers.”

Event dates and location:  Conference:  15-17 March 2011.  Pre-conference workshops:  14 March 2011.  CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa
Event website:  www.african-utility-week.com

For media accreditation, assistance and interviews contact:
Communications manager:  Annemarie Roodbol
Tel:  +27 (0) 21 700 3558
Mobile:  +27 (0) 82 562 7844
Fax:  +27 (0) 21 700 3551
Email:  annemarie.roodbol@clarionevents.com