The year 2020 has taught us a lot.
Not only that the African energy industry is resilient in a crisis, but also that the digital space enables us to communicate and share ideas in real-time. These two learnings came together during the Digital African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa, which took place from 24-26 November.
While all the sessions were worth checking out, there were five very specific themes that stood out and show how Africa’s energy sector is evolving.
#1 The word is ‘digitalisation’
Leveraging the process of converting information from physical to digital was a big theme. Whether it was talking about how to shift a utility into the 21st century or the digital methods already in use across Africa such as drones, digitalisation kept on cropping up.
#2 Supercharging your job
The concept of employment came through in the various sessions, like the discussion on Localisation in the IRP 2019 asking just who actually gets the cool, highly paid jobs on the renewable energy projects in South Africa. But deliberately discussed in more than one session was your career path in the energy sector.
This was literally the topic of the Initiate session. The three-part Women In Energy series culminated in a webinar discussion by women in leadership positions discussing how mentorship can help you take your career to the next level. A session on Green entrepreneurship as a driver for change looked at the kind of support available to entrepreneurs through a newly launched green business support services directory.
#3 Pushing the boundaries of generation
Then there were several sessions on the trends, benefits and opportunities of different kinds of generations. This was something as overt as Trends and benefits of next-generation high powered PV solar panels or Small Scale Hydropower Opportunities in East Africa. Or something a bit more subtle like At what point does energy storage become commercially viable.
A masterclass on Biomass opportunities in South Africa unpacked opportunities for potential new businesses thanks to a new public-private partnership around turning solid woody mass into fuel. The Norwegian dialogue: Solar energy in displacement contexts looked at how refugee camps are turning into a disruptor of the energy sector.
#4 Maintain the sustain
Sustainability was not just a buzzword being used in every second session, but a concept debated, unpacked and reconstituted. Building resilient incomes to ensure sustainable business models looked at how mini-grids across Africa are become not only more sustainable but scalable.
Advice on how to reimagine your digital utility pointed to ways to make the business more sustainable while a talk on alternative finance procurement looked at how to expand future large scale water infrastructure to address continent-wide needs.
#5 The theme that must not be named
The African energy sector in transition though – that is what most of the sessions touched on without ever using the words ‘energy transition’. Each of the digital sessions covered a different aspect of how Africa’s energy sector is evolving, starting with a glimpse into Eskom’s future plans in the keynote address.
Moving forward, African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa will be known as Enlit Africa – your inclusive guide to the energy transition.
Digital Energy Festival
The following sessions are still available to watch on demand as part of the Digital Energy Festival for Africa:
The Digital Energy Festival for Africa in 2020 was hosted jointly by four of Clarion Events’ leading energy brands Africa Energy Forum, African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa (now Enlit Africa) and the Oil & Gas Council’s Africa Assembly and the leading energy journal ESI Africa providing six weeks of compelling content.