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The African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa conference has a longstanding reputation of producing innovative, topical and high-level content, and opportunity for discussion and engagement among industry professionals.

ESI Africa, the official host publication, spoke with a few of the presenters ahead of the event taking place on 14-16 May in Cape Town.

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Edition 2, 2019. You can read the magazine's articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

Along with multiple side events and numerous networking functions the event boasts a five track strategic conference with over 300 expert speakers. An extensive Knowledge Hub programme that is CPD accredited and free to attend offers hands-on presentations taking place in defined spaces on the exhibition floor. Here is what you can expect from the confirmed presenters.

The Power Strategy Development conference is tailored to utilities and companies with an interest in finance and investment as well as generation options. Romain Py, Head of Transactions, African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), is a panellist in a discussion on “Finance and investment trends and forecasts for Africa’s power infrastructure”. AIIM is a shareholder in Albatros Energy Mali, winner of last year’s African Utility Week Industry Award for the Deal of the Year. The 90MW thermal power station in Kayes, western Mali is this West African nation’s first independent power project (IPP) to feed into the national grid.

Romain, what is your vision for the energy sector on the continent?

To reduce its power deficit, Africa needs to unlock largescale investment in its energy sector. This will require the implementation of reliable domestic policy frameworks and the development of the right institutional capacity. It will also require well-structured and transparent procurement processes and a ‘programmatic development’ approach in order to build the credibility necessary to attract international investment on the scale needed.

Renewable energy has become an increasingly attractive alternative to fossil fuels, as renewable energy tariffs have approached or decreased below grid parity in a number of sub-Saharan African countries, providing sustainable and affordable electricity.

Water, wastewater and water utilities remain a focal point at African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa in Cape Town, where the water conference will bring together experts from public and private sectors to support municipalities as they become more responsive and efficient in their water practices. Noting that Cape Town recently made global headlines as drought conditions threatened this tourist attraction’s bulk water supply last year, the leading water experts in the programme line-up shared this with us:

“The greatest challenge facing global water security is global transformation. The world is changing as we look on and this is happening at a very fast pace and impacting heavily on available natural resources, including fresh water.” – Paul Yillia, Guest Research Scholar (Water Programme), International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria, winner of the 2018 African Utility Week Industry Award for Outstanding Contribution Award for Water and chairperson of this year’s water conference.

“We have made a real and profound difference intercepting Day Zero, by helping the City of Cape Town fast-track the use of intelligent water infrastructure” – Shannon Vermaak, marketing manager for Utility Systems, platinum sponsors.

“Climate change impacts are imminent; however, most key institutions are not fully prepared to deal with such impacts” – Sicelo N. Mashwama, Environment, Health & Safety Manager at Swaziland Water Services Corporation.

“Cape Town is a good example that Africa has started to face the effects of climate change by investigating alternative water resources and minimising the loss of non-revenue water and general water use” – Jan Kürstein, Hydrogeologist and Senior Consultant Water and Natural Resources at Rambøll in Denmark.

The Energy Revolution Africa conference provides a dynamic meeting place for solution providers, consultants, renewable energy producers, and African and global energy minds to develop alternative solutions towards the acceleration of Africa’s sustainable electrification. Session topics include partnership agreements to improve energy access, solar power at IPP level and financing renewable energy projects.

Micro grid expert Dr Sam Duby, the Africa Director of TFE Consulting, who will share an exciting update on a recent breakthrough that heralds the maturation of this much needed industry on the continent, stated: “In February this year, a group of sector leading practitioners, progressive donors, industry representatives and international think tanks met in Nairobi to lay the foundations of a framework to pool and share data. This development might prove to be one of the most important levers to remove some of the stubborn barriers in the way of this industry reaching the scale it needs to connect the one billion people still living without electricity.”

The Smart Energy conference will combine meteringbased topics with the latest smart grid solutions to equip the sector’s leaders and innovators. ESI Africa asked Chinedu Igbokwe, Chief Operating Officer, Daystar Power Group, Nigeria, who is a featured speaker, what he considers to be the more pioneering technologies coming out of the renewable energy industry. “We are seeing an uptick in long duration storage solutions using flow-battery technology. This is important in Africa as most of the projects are off-grid hence storage solutions play a major role,” said Chinedu.

However, he feels that in the long run Lithium Ion will win out in both short and long duration applications. “With Li-ion’s diverse markets ranging from portable electronics like smartphones or laptop computers, to ever increasing usage in the automotive world for hybrid and full electric vehicles, it has benefited from economies of scale and today represents the most effective core technology.”

Chinedu does point out that within the Lithium Ion battery field there are many different chemistries being contemplated, “all of which promise to improve on energy density, safety, durability, or power capability. We are continually monitoring these advances in the field and are working with some of these companies to take advantage of these technologies when they mature.” ESI

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Edition 2, 2019. You can read the magazine's articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

Mark these dates in your calendar

Conference and expo: 14-16 May 2019

Site visits: 17 May 2019

Location: CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa

www.african-utility-week.com | www.powergenafrica.com | gary.meyer@spintelligent.com | #AUW2019 #PGAF19

1 COMMENT

  1. “Renewable energy has become an increasingly attractive alternative to fossil fuels, as renewable energy tariffs have approached or decreased below grid parity in a number of sub-Saharan African countries, providing sustainable and affordable electricity”. This statement requires a lot of discussion as it may be misleading. If indeed correct, why is it that globally solar and wind together account for 7% of electricity production? Why compare tariffs of intermittent energy with power that can be made available for 24 hours in a day and can exist on its own? Why does anyone want Africa to manufacture the equivalent of a Mercedes Benz using solar power when that is not the case in the developed world where fossil fuel and nuclear use are still very high? There is a reason for all this?