The news coming out of the North American and European energy markets indicates an industry that is soaking up innovation and opening its doors to unique solutions, while the African energy landscape struggles under a weight of murky governance, lack of funding, and operational stagnation.
Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter on 2019/04/17– subscribe today
The African utility space is lagging behind the curve as opportunities in electric vehicles, battery storage, small-scale embedded generation, and net-zero building designs march past. These trailblazing initiatives among others are just not on our priority list.
What is on the list is the need to increase electrification rates, add baseload and grid-tied capacity, to adopt renewable energy development, to strengthen national and regional energy policy, to maintain cost-reflective tariffs and roll out metering projects, and to have a skilled workforce to monitor and control the network. This list is far from complete, and you are welcome to add your identified priority items.
Of course, it would be wonderful to also set our sight on the array of motivators at the leading edge of the global Energy Revolution that is underway. Would you believe that it is within our grasp to achieve this alongside the areas that require our immediate attention?
Development is taking shape as capacity is being added (the Isimba hydropower plant in Uganda is one example), regulation is underway to ensure metering, and cost-reflective tariffs transpire (such as MAPs in Nigeria), and electric public transportation is edging its way into African cities (did you know that Uganda was the continent’s first country to launch a solar-powered bus).
This progress heralds the time for aggressive advancements in innovative technology and forward-thinking policy. To find out more on the achievements and where the nuggets of innovation are underway, join us at the upcoming African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa conference and exhibition taking place on 14-16 May in Cape Town at the CTICC.
I look forward to meeting you there to chat about how Africa can achieve the desired levels of affordable, sustainable, and innovative power solutions.