“Any crisis drives innovation. That means in Sub-Saharan Africa we will see innovations in the field of energy leapfrogging.”

Exclusive interview with Dr. Jens Reich, Director South Africa of STEAG Energy Services GmbH and speaker in the Jensgeneration track at the upcoming African Utility Week in Cape Town in May. He will present a Namibian case study on “Power generation by biomass utilisation in Southern Africa”.

1. Any exciting projects that you can tell us about?
The hunger for energy is gigantic in Africa, but an energy project is not a self-selling item, it is a long-term business. STEAG is providing continuous partnership and services “Made in Germany”: O&M of the Morupule B power plant in Botswana, engineering support of ESKOM in Medupi and owner´s engineering for a CCPP in Ghana are exemplary milestones for our services.

With regards to skills transfer STEAG Energy Services has been active as well. Through the GIZ, STEAG was part of the ESCO/Cogeneration facilitator hosted by SANEDI and provided trainings in particular in the area of Cogeneration. That activity has been subsequently expanded and STEAG provides the Cogeneration expert as lecturer for the EUREM program of the German Chamber in South Africa.

2. Tell us more about STEAG Energy Services?

STEAG Energy Services is an international services provider for O&M, Engineering and IT solutions for conventional and renewable power plant. STEAG has been active in Africa since the beginning of this century.

3. What in your view are the main challenges of doing business in Africa?

Africa was only a provider of resources for a long-time. The former colonialism was often followed by dictatorship, civil war or even apartheid. As one result self-development, education and the establishment of know-how in African countries are still underdetermined. This means for energy projects, which are quite complex, that skills, know-how and knowledge must be transferred from industrial countries like Germany to Africa.

But this is exactly the point, where STEAG steps in. Our vision of the energy sector in Africa is that state-owned utilities and private industry will jointly build-up the energy generation landscape of Africa. On the one hand energy supply is a state goal as well as the provision and operation of (energy) infrastructure. On the other hand private industry has experience in development and execution of large projects and can provide own capital for investment.

4. You are part of the conference programme at this year’s African Utility Week in May, what will be your message?

Referring to study in Namibia on bush encroachment the biomass has a high potential for power generation and local development. Help to unlock it.

5. What are you most looking forward to at African Utility Week?

Networking and partnering with local companies and stakeholders, who are interested in a strong international partner.

6. Anything you would like to add?

Any crisis drives innovation. That means in Sub-Saharan Africa we will see innovations in the field of energy leapfrogging. The renewable program is just the beginning.