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As Africa faces emerging opportunities to help deliver efficient, affordable and reliable electricity to consumers, GE Power released a whitepaper on the Digitisation of Energy Transmission & Distribution in Africa.

The paper explores the opportunities and challenges faced in sub-Saharan Africa as the new future of energy and electrification emerges.

The paper also looks at the role of smart technology to transform grids as they continue to reflect the changes in the way energy is generated, distributed, traded, managed and stored.

The whitepaper presents several challenges that affect energy access and power supply stability in Africa. Read more: Digital transformation spending to reach $1.1tn in 2018

They include inadequate power generation but more significantly, low levels of electrification caused primarily by faulty, aged or wrong setup of transmission and distribution infrastructure.

The whitepaper has been co-authored by the strategic marketing unit of GE Power in sub-Saharan Africa, and energy & environment research analysts of Frost & Sullivan.

Combating power sector challenges

According to the authors, smart grids can create the potential to combat sub-Saharan Africa’s power sector challenges, and provide the opportunity for the region to develop its energy capabilities and, therefore its energy security as well as security of supply.

The digital transformation of grids allows users to take a holistic approach to achieve efficiency, flexibility, transparency and long-term sustainability.

“Transmission and distribution networks are seen to be the weakest links in Africa’s power systems and hence represent a huge opportunity area for improvement,” said Lazarus Angbazo, CEO, GE’s Grid Solutions business, sub-Saharan Africa.

“Going forward, there is a need to move beyond simply maintaining and repairing aged infrastructure,” Angbazo urged.

According to him, in order to truly advance the power sector, a holistic approach needs to be adopted; one that ensures sustainability, reliability and longevity of power supply.

“By utilising internet of things technology, the smarter grids of tomorrow will deliver all-encompassing solutions based on the convergence of operating technology with information technology and incorporating emerging concepts such as distributed generation and energy storage,” he added.