Regional awards
Regional awards. Pic credit: ESI Africa
Regional awards: Dr H.E. Elham Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union in Ethiopia. Pic credit: ESI Africa

On Thursday evening, the regional awards ceremony honouring top achievers in seven categories in the East African power sector took place at the inaugural East African Power Industry Awards in Nairobi.

Local power utility Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) scored a double win walking away with two awards in the renewables and generation categories.

The utility took top honours as the Clean Power regional awards’ winner for its Olkaria Expansion Project. In a second win, it was awarded the Excellence in Power Generation for consistently delivering development at the Olkaria geothermal plant, which is seen as a step toward significantly lowering the cost of electricity in Kenya.

According to the regional awards’ judging panel, the Olkaria Expansion Project is the “final piece in one of the largest geothermal power projects in the world making Kenya a world leader in geothermal energy.

“It will also significantly contribute to bringing down the cost of power in Kenya by directly offsetting thermal based generation,” said the judges.

Lifetime achievement among the best

The regional awards’ Lifetime Achievement for East Africa went to Dr Albert Butare, former Energy Minister of Rwanda.

Dr Butare’s resume includes more than 20 years of energy, water, and communication experience in Africa.

He has experience in high-level public sector policy and project development and implementation, engineering, social and economic development.

On winning the award, Butare said: “When you do what you do in Rwanda and in the region, you do it for what it is – advising the government and potential investors – you do it as the natural course of our day-to-day responsibilities.

“Looking at the other finalists, they are all fantastic and for me to be awarded as the winner I am really humbled and encouraged to continue what I am doing moving the energy sector forward.”

Regional awards’ for women in power

The regional awards for Outstanding Woman in Power went to H.E. Dr Elham Mahmoud Ahmed Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, African Union, Ethiopia who was also a finalist in the Lifetime Achievement category.

Dr Ibrahim has over 30 years of service in the energy sector including academic research, energy strategies and policies, international cooperation, technical agreements and protocols, and energy planning studies.

In April 2008, she was elected and appointed for the post of Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy, in the African Union Commission and was re-elected in 2012 for the same post.

Dr Ibrahim said: “It [this award] has a lot of meaning for me to know that what you are doing is recognised and appreciated by your colleagues – especially [for us] in the African Union Commission.

“Sometimes it is not recognised that the AUC is working also for development. It is assumed that it is only for businesses, security and political organisations.

“I’m really happy that what we are doing is known, recognised and appreciated – also as a woman [in this sector].”

Umeme takes T&D regional award

On awarding the Ugandan power utility Umeme the regional award for T&D, the judges said: “Excellent details on past performance and how they intend to grow”.

Umeme plans to invest as much as $100 million in upgrading its network this year. Planned funding this year is part of the $440 million the company is spending between 2013 and 2018 overhauling old equipment, buying new technology and adding distribution points.

CSR initiative awarded to Airtel

The CSR Initiative award went to Airtel, Kenya for its 2014 I-Afrika biogas plant.

This small-scale biogas plant consists of a digester, in which bacteria convert animal dung into methane gas through the process of anaerobic digestion.

On awarding this project, the judges said: “The project has had a positive impact on the school it has targeted. It definitely is for the social good, is eco-friendly and required a charitable contribution from the company”.

Power transaction of the year

Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa, Jumeme Rural Power Supply Ltd, Tanzania took the final award for Power Transaction of the Year.

The Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) approved at the end of 2014 a $420,000 preparation grant to Jumeme. This grant is to support the development of a portfolio of independent solar-hybrid mini-grids in rural growth centres in Tanzania.

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Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl has been working in the African power, energy and water sectors since 2011, first with African Utility Week and now as the Editor of ESI Africa. She is also an Advisory Board member of the Global and African Power & Energy Elites publications. With her passion for sustainable business and placing African countries on the international stage, Nicolette takes a keen interest in current affairs and technology trends.