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Africa’s resilient energy sector celebrated in latest African Power & Energy Elites

“The timing is perfect for utilities to embrace the shift to digital”

“The benefits of solar and the effectiveness of minigrids continue to shine bright on our continent,” says Ashley Theron-Ord, editor of the annual African Power & Energy Elites journal that launched today.

In its seventh year, the journal celebrates those who are driving the modern African power and energy sector forward and puts a spotlight on a number of inspiring leaders and projects.

“Resilient is a perfect and apt way to describe the attitude of the power professionals and developments that are featured this year,” says Theron-Ord, “not only because of the past year’s unforeseen challenges, but resiliency also reflects the continent that has endured many hardships, but always continues to seek out the opportunities that lie beneath the struggles. The results are nothing less than inspiring and we celebrate that in the African Power & Energy Elites 2021.

From bicycle wheel to offgrid power
Magiro Power is a small hydropower company in Muranga County north of Nairobi in Kenya and the brainchild of John Magiro, a young entrepreneur who is on a mission to provide affordable, reliable and sustainable access to off-grid electricity.

He grew up in a small rural farming community without access to power. At 18 he decided to build a micro-hydropower plant in the Gondo river, drawing on everyday items including a dynamo and bicycle wheel rim. As the plant grew, he attracted attention and was able to form partnerships and upgrade his equipment and capacity. His payment model has evolved to a payment per kWh rate depending on consumption. Magiro Power currently supplies 680 households and small businesses with reliable to reliable power.

Other projects featured in the African Power & Energy Elites include the deployment of micro-utilities as well as mini grids in Nigeria, wind power in rural Tanzania and how public-private partnerships are proving a great, practical fit to make community solar projects work.

Some highlights from the Leadership interviews:

  • Salma Okonkwo, CEO, Blue Power Energy:
    “I am continuously inspired by the technology and IT sectors because they have a strong grasp and understanding of what it means to innovate. Change is what drives those industries forward. For example, the recent breakthrough made by Google’s DeepMind AI in the medical sector. They solved a problem that had stumped scientists for 50 years, using new technology. I try to bring that same mentality of innovation and persistence in my business.”
  • Aaron Leopold, CEO, Africa Minigrid Developers Association (AMDA):
    “It is interesting to see how national utilities in Africa are much less sophisticated than mini grid companies in terms of the digital dashboards, systems, customer and financial management tools they use. This includes an open source platform that one of AMDA’s members developed and put in the public domain, MicroPowerManager, which would benefit every small utility on the continent – it’s one of the most powerful energy systems management tools out there. And it’s free!”
  • Karen de Bruyn, Head of Development, G7 Renewable Energies and Co-founder of WE-Connect, the first networking platform for women working in the South African renewable energy space:
    “South Africa and the world is on the verge of a green energy transition and I am so excited to be a part of a team embracing this. Through WE Connect I hope to play a role in developing and growing future female leaders to lead this transition critical to post pandemic economic recovery.”

Industry support
Leading global metering solutions provider for utilities Conlog is the titanium partner of this year’s African Power & Energy Elites 2021.

“…early on, I recognised the value of our purpose – bringing access to energy. What an important mission we were given”, says Conlog CEO, Logan Moodley.

“Utilities don’t need to continue operating in a situation where revenue collection and management is a daily struggle,” states Viven Perumal, Conlog’s marketing manager. “Technology is available to help them – 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.”

“It’s an important time for leadership in Africa! Congratulations to all the leaders and projects featured in this year’s edition”, says Ross Hastie, Group Director of Media at Clarion Energy.

Produced by Clarion Energy and ESI Africa , this glossy edition is available online and in print format.

The 2021 editorial features can be viewed here.

Nominations for 2022 edition
The 2022 nomination process has opened for all projects and leaders in the African power and energy value chain at both regional and global levels in a number of categories. View the categories here:

Clarion Energy runs over 40 events around the world that cover the power, energy, oil and gas sectors, making it one of largest portfolios of the UK-based Clarion Events Group.


Editorial contact:
Ashley Theron-Ord Ashley.theron@clarionenergy.com

Partnership contact:
Errol Bryce Errol.bryce@clarionenergy.com

Media contact:
Annemarie Roodbol Annemarie.roodbol@clarionevents.com

Annemarie Roodbol
Annemarie Roodbol is a communications practitioner based in Cape Town.