Exclusive interview with Alaric Pagel, Managing Director of WPI Power Solutions, exhibitor at the upcoming African Utility Week in Cape Town in May.
1.What do you see as the major challenges in the utility sphere?
For us as a company definitely the procurement processes. The tender process is lengthy and this puts us under pressure with our budgets. But for utilities I believe they have many challenges such as vandalism, lack of maintenance on critical equipment and skills shortages not enough technical people to perform the work they need to do.
2.What is your vision for the energy industry?
My vision is for the energy industry to be radically realigned such as the privatisation of Eskom and municipalities to run as business units rather than branches of government. I feel this may make them more sustainable and ensure tighter controls on maintenance spending and providing much needed infrastructure so the economy can flourish.
3.What opportunities do you see in South Africa/rest of Africa?
If infrastructure spending takes off then there will be plenty of opportunities.
4.What surprises you about this industry?
The resilience of companies in our sector despite the challenges we face, plus the energy and determination they have to make a difference.
5.What projects and services by your company are you currently most excited about?
Currently we have long term substation maintenance contracts with Sasol and Anglo Coal and Anglo Gold, which we are very proud and fortunate to have. The work involves the repair and maintenance of switchgear and circuit breakers at the various plants and runs according to production schedules. We are also very excited about our retrofit offerings. Retrofits are a very cost effective way to improve safety and extend the life of electrical switchgear without any downtime and risk of collateral cable damage.
6.What makes your company competitive in this market?
Firstly there are very few companies that offer the kind services that we offer. Our business units are situated close to our customers, and our field service teams are available 24/7 for any emergency or planned breakdowns on the mines or plants. We have an extensive national footprint from which to support our customers.
7.Why did you decide to partner with African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa?
It is my opinion that this is the largest power and energy event in South Africa.
8.What will be your specific message at the event?
Our message will be to introduce to utilities here and in Africa our maintenance services and our retrofit solutions for circuit breakers to allow for a longer lifecycle for medium voltage switchgear. To highlight our technical expertise, and footprint throughout South Africa and judge how we can replicate this in Africa.
9. What are you most looking forward to at African Utility Week?
To engaging with potential customers in Africa and finding out what their issues are and how we can help them.
10. Which areas in Africa are you currently active in?
We look forward to procuring more business opportunities in Africa after exhibiting at this conference / exhibition.
11. Anything you would like to add?
This is the first time we are attending African Utility Week and we have high hopes that this will be a long term relationship and an annual event on our calendar.