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O & M company launched in Africa’s renewable sector

Pius Gumbi,
CEO, Conco O&M
13 November 2012 – Conco Operations and Maintenance (O&M), a subsidiary of JSElisted Consolidated Infrastructure Group (CIG), was recently established to deal with the needs of the renewable energy sector across Africa. The company’s launch comes on the heels of the South African government’s announcement to go ahead with 28 wind and solar projects in the first window of its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer (REIPP) procurement programme.

Pius Gumbi, CEO of Conco O&M says, “The formation of the company is a logical extension to Conco’s existing business where it has earned a reputation over the past 26 years as a leading electrical infrastructure developer across sub-Saharan Africa specialising in substations, protection and automation systems, overhead lines and renewable energy (wind and solar). The company designed, procured, constructed and project managed the grid connection for South Africa’s first and only wind farm at Darling in the Western Cape.

“Conco O&M is well placed to provide a comprehensive operations and maintenance service to turbine manufacturers and developers. The recent Windaba conference in Cape Town was an ideal platform for us to promote our O&M offering,” Gumbi says. “We engaged in excellent dialogue with multiple potential customers with our formal entry into the O&M market being very well received, particularly by key stakeholders including OEMs, financiers and project developers. This has helped validate our approach and we feel confident that we are fully on track and well prepared to secure a good portion of the O&M business that is expected to come out of the first round of the REIPP procurement programme.”

Conco’s renewable energy division has already signed contracts worth R570 million, and has concluded agreements with wind and solar energy developers and turbine manufacturers for the provision of the electrical work required to connect renewable energy projects to the main electrical grid.

Conco’s capability in identifying suitable people within local communities, training, mentoring and developing their skills, supported by a strong management team, is critical to its business model. The Conco Skills Academy was set up for this purpose and is a proven training ground for local African talent. “Of vital importance to turbine manufacturers,” notes Gumbi, “is having well-trained and qualified technicians on site to ensure assets are run and maintained efficiently so that they perform optimally. Our aim is to keep costs down and limit exposure on warranties. Added to this, Conco has experienced international professionals with years of O&M experience on wind and solar projects, and Conco O&M will ensure that manufacturers maximise their asset’s efficiency. Conco’s position as an independent service provider will also allow for and incentivise complete alignment of stakeholder interest for each project.

“Backing by CIG as a JSElisted entity, provides comfort to all stakeholders that there is a credible financial commitment and reputation behind Conco O&M,” Gumbi says.