Chiboni EvansExclusive interview with Ms. Chiboni Evans, Chief Executive Officer, South African Electrotechnical Export Council (SAEEC). The SAEEC is leading a large delegation of South African exhibitors to the East African Power Industry Convention from 27-28 August in Nairobi.

SAEEC is going up to EAPIC with quite a big delegation this year, please tell us more about these companies?

The South African Electrotechnical Export Council (SAEEC) will be leading a delegation of twenty five companies to EAPIC in Nairobi, Kenya this year.  This is more than double the number of companies that the SAEEC led to EAPIC in 2014, where we were represented by a delegation of only ten companies.

This increased participation has been made possible by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) and is supported by the South African High Commission in Kenya.

Our increased participation is also an indication of the importance South Africa ascribes to not only the Power Sector in Africa but to the East African region.

2015 is also the first year in which the SAEEC, supported by the dti, is showcasing at EAPIC sixteen “emerging” exporters. The sixteen organisations, as profiled, are South African owned and registered companies, which have demonstrated their commercial and technical abilities by successfully supplying into the South African Electrotechnical sector.

A number of these firms have already begun exporting into the rest of Africa and further afield.

These companies are classified as Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and whose ownership will largely vest in South Africans from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.

We are therefore encouraged to note that EAPIC 2015 will be promoting local industry by profiling indigenous Kenyan companies at this year’s event.

There will inevitably be learnings shared between the SMMEs from the two countries. Accordingly, we encourage the larger, more established, SAEEC member companies participating at EAPIC to mentor, coach and guide our SMMEs as they navigate the commercial and technical complexities that pose challenges to internationalising their businesses.

The SAEEC is leading a delegation that includes Allbro, Conlog, Syntell, Lucy Electric, Powertech, Siemens, Landis & Gyr, Osisoft and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.

These are larger and more established South African companies that have proven track records of providing a wide range of electricity infrastructure products and services across Africa – from generation and transmission to distribution.

What kind of expertise are these companies bringing to the East African region?

The product range and service offering covered by the SAEEC delegation companies is vast, ranging from software development and micro-assemblies, through to consumer electronics, ICT equipment, communications technology, security and related technology and ultimately power and electrical engineering products.

The competencies and abilities of South African companies in the Power and Electrical Engineering sub-sector are well known.

In the Power Sector, in particular, South African companies are highly regarded as solution providers for both new builds and the rehabilitation of generation, transmission and distribution power projects.

The SAEEC member companies represented at EAPIC are leading manufacturers and suppliers of electrical and electronic equipment.

They offer products and services ranging from technology solutions for revenue collection to manufacture of medium and low voltage switchgear, smart metering solutions, specialised enclosures for electrical equipment to manufacturing cables, testing, installation and commissioning of a full range of transformers, from small pole mounted distribution transformers all the way up to the very large 765MVA power transformers.

As you can see, the product and service offering that the SAEEC is spearheading into EAPIC 2015 is diverse and extensive.

I am confident that visiting delegates from the various utilities across Africa will be impressed with the goods, services and solutions offered by all the SAEEC member companies exhibiting at EAPIC 2015.

SAEEC member companies, including our emerging exporters, are well qualified, technically competent and have a range of goods and services that will be of interest to many decision makers from visiting African utilities.

There are clearly great opportunities for South African companies in that region, what are they?

East Africa is a key market for South Africa. The competitiveness of South African companies in East Africa is likely to increase given the impending elimination or reduction of import duties, emanating from the Free Trade Agreements, into key markets such as Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia.

The regional integration we are witnessing in East Africa, through institutions such as the East Africa Power Pool and the promotion of renewable generation, also present opportunities for South African businesses.

South African businesses are cognizant of the developments taking place in the Power Sector throughout Africa and as a result of their past and current experiences are well equipped and capable to develop and provide solutions, for Africans, with Africans by Africans.

Both government and private sector have a role to play as Africa develops and implements its Power infrastructure plans.

Our understanding of the needs of our continent requires us to participate and not observe as we develop our industries and economies and electrify our marginalised communities.

As the largest producer and consumer of electricity on the African continent, South Africa and South African businesses have a lot to share with the region and the continent as we collectively develop our communities, industries and economies.

You have been a partner of EAPIC for years now, how important is this show for your members?

Power and access to electricity is a key driver for industrialisation, economic growth and development in Africa.

In 2015, supported by the dti, the SAEEC embarked on a programme to not only grow our SMMEs in the Electrical Engineering sub-sector but also to have a focused approach as to how we, as South Africa, participate in the development of Africa’s energy infrastructure.

Our status as Trade Association partner requires that we profile our country, our sector and our capabilities to various utilities and other key stakeholders in the African energy sector at key events on the African continent.

In short, EAPIC is an important partner and event for South African businesses that fall under the sector represented by the SAEEC.

Anything else you would like to add?

South Africa’s commitment to developing our sector and thus effectively participating in the Power Sector in Africa is undisputed. This is evident by our significant participation at key events such as EAPIC.

We will be represented again at the West Africa Power Industry Convention in Lagos, Nigeria in November 2015 and in South Africa at the African Utility Week in 2016.