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Last week, our #HeartForTheSector campaign sparked a global dialogue on how the COVID-19 pandemic has put utilities into crisis management mode across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter on 15/04/2020

The dialogue took place through four free-to-attend live webinars where participants took the opportunity to highlight successes while being pragmatic about the challenges that lie ahead.

I was privileged to moderate the Africa edition and was impressed by how calm we appeared to be knowing what is at stake. Once the webinar got started, I was again struck by the overwhelming urgency of this crisis as our audience posed compelling questions to the panel. 

With so many practical and insightful pointers, I encourage you to listen to the full recording of the webinar. However, allow me to share two that you will find thought-provoking.

First, even though the electricity supply industry already has emergency plans in place, no contingency plan could have anticipated the level of this crisis and the scale of the pandemic—yet utility companies have continued to rise to the challenge and deliver.

To date, there has not been a reported case of a city or region in lockdown conditions having its essential electricity, water and waste management services interrupted.  

Second is that the sector must anticipate an increase in force majeure claims, which are going to multiply as the crisis deepens. Force majeure has already been raised in South Africa where Eskom is proposing to curtail operational wind farms, citing reduced demand in relation to COVID-19.

These are just two of the Aha! moments that I’m sharing with you. What we do know is that conditions are going to get even tougher to keep services operational and the lights on in this period of social distancing.

However, during this period of crisis management utilities and stakeholders must also prepare for a post-lockdown phase.

What are your thoughts on the shape and form of a post-pandemic market?

Until next week.