HomeRegional NewsAfricaPeer-to-peer: Utilities talk pandemic, digital and finance

Peer-to-peer: Utilities talk pandemic, digital and finance

You might not have access to the closed-door meetings between expert partners and utility CEOs but the expert partners in attendance can share valuable general advice on preparing for a post-pandemic power and energy market.

The article first appeared in ESI Africa Issue 4-2020.
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Developmental partners and guest speakers at these forums have included senior representatives from the Southern African Power Pool, Central African Power Pool, African Development Bank, African Legal Support Facility, and the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA). The expert partners for the full Utility CEO Forum series are Conlog, Eaton, Nyamezela and Oracle Utilities – who all spoke with ESI Africa.

“It is great to hear about, discuss and solve challenges that our African utility CEOs face,” says Viven Perumal, Conlog’s Marketing Executive. “Financial sustainability of utilities is so critical in providing access to energy and services that our African citizens need.

However, utilities don’t need to continue operating in a situation where revenue collection and management is a daily struggle.”

“Technology is available to help them,” he explains: “Technology which not only takes the realities of their current financial situation into account, but considers the consumers at whom it is aimed as well. The timing is perfect for utilities to embrace the shift to digital, to do more with less, to improve efficiencies and their financial situation at the same time,” states Perumal.

“Utilities are open to new solutions to solve the current challenges to ensure the sustainability of their operations,” says Matsotso Vuso, MD of Nyamezela, adding that “utilities need to venture into smart collaboration during these critical times of the COVID-19 pandemic, including establishing partnerships with various financial institutions. Smart prepaid metering solutions and innovative tariff structures are key to the financial wellbeing of utilities. The rollout of these will see utilities securing revenue, especially during these times”.

Mike Ballard, Oracle Utilities Vice President Industry Strategy, says: “Being able to track revenues (and where it is lost) throughout the value chain is very important. Increasingly utilities are able to streamline their operations by centralizing activities into smaller numbers of systems (and vendors). A best-of-breed suppliers approach is becoming less popular due to cost, and the complexity of integration and delays in value realisation.”

According to Seydou Kane, MD Africa, Eaton Electrical Sector: “Post-lockdown, as businesses emerge into an environment still threatened by the prospect of loadshedding and extreme energy price increases, many are likely to consider going ‘off-grid’, or at least, find ways to supplement their power needs with renewable energy resources. This creates the opportunity for a major shift, with the possibility that the electricity network and grid will evolve in such a way that individuals or companies will be able to receive or resend energy to the grid.” ESI

Digital Energy Festival hosts upcoming regional Utility CEO Forums

Africa’s utility executives have saved the dates to participate in these regional by-invitation-only sessions prior to and during the Digital Energy Festival:

• West Africa (Francophone): 1-2 October 2020

• West Africa (Anglophone): 10-11 November 2020

• Africa: 24-26 November 2020