Exclusive interview with Moso Bolofo, Director at Steinmüller Africa, longstanding partner of African Utility Week and silver sponsor at this year’s event in May.
Let’s start with some company background, there is a proud history there.
Steinmüller Africa has a proud and long history in selected market sectors which include power generation, chemical and petrochemical, pulp and paper, sugar and steel beneficiation. The company has been operating for 56 years in South Africa on projects extending to most Southern African countries including Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia.
The company provides customer support throughout the plant life cycle i.e. design, manufacture, erection, commissioning, repair and maintenance. Since the 1960’s Steinmüller Africa has designed, manufactured and erected boilers that generate approx. 20 GW of South Africa’s installed capacity. Prior to the latest phase of new build power plants, Steinmuller undertook the Return to Service of all three mothballed stations namely Camden, Komati and Grootvlei power stations.
At the state of the art manufacturing facility in Pretoria West, Steinmüller Africa manufactured the boiler pressure parts for all twelve boilers as well as fabricating the high pressure and temperature pipework for the Medupi and Kusile power plants.
Where in Africa are you active?
Our operations are mainly in South Africa. We have in the past been involved with steam generation and reticulation plant in the SADC region namely Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.
We are actively pursuing supply projects in the rest of the continent within our selected market segments.
What projects that your organisation is currently involved in are you most excited about? How is this changing people’s lives?
Steinmüller Africa provides on-going maintenance to seven power plants in the Mpumalanga and KZN provinces. Not only do we provide employment in the province but the company undertakes various CSI projects covering technical training, support to local community crèche and water supply projects.
What are the main challenges to the energy industry on the African continent in your view. And the opportunities for investors?
One of the major constraints on the continent relates to power transmission infrastructure. Large areas of the continent are without transmission lines and furthermore only building industrial centres which will in the future drive sustainable energy demand. The latter has a direct impact on the affordability of energy and hence economic growth.
How important is renewable energy in Africa’s energy mix?
Renewables are an important element of the energy mix and are strongly supported in the IRP documents that project the strategic growth path determined by government. Their role in combating negative effects of global warming is no longer in doubt.
Furthermore many of the renewable technologies lend themselves to off-grid energy supply systems that can be installed in remote locations. The lead time for their installation is also relatively very short.
Whereas South Africa is a water scarce country and hence limited in the hydro plants we can install, the Central African region has been shown to be capable of large scale hydro plant that can even be exported to Southern Europe.
How important is regional cooperation in your view?
Regional co-operation is key to efficient use of natural and human resources, industrialisation and leveraging on economies of scale. The regional power pools established in Southern Africa as well as East and West Africa will assist in speeding up the industrialisation of the continent.
What is your vision for the sector?
The introduction of Independent Power Producers will accelerate the localisation of the manufacture of energy systems. More of the wind turbine, solar PV and CSP plant components can now be fabricated locally.
You are a longstanding partner of African Utility Week – how important is this event for the industry?
African Utility Week plays a significant role in communication exchanges between various energy role players.
Not only is the conference side useful in the exchange of technical know-how, but the interaction with users from all over the continent is invaluable.