On Wednesday, Cape Town’s executive mayor, Patricia de Lille, opened the annual African Utility Week Industry Awards held in Cape Town.

Organisers of the conference and exhibition have established an esteemed list of panellists to identify Africa’s most influential people and projects.

The guest list comprised 700 of Africa’s most distinguished power and water industry professionals who gathered to recognise those that represent a benchmark of excellence for the power industry.

Categories vary from Power Utility of the Year Award, Clean Energy Project of the Year to Municipality of the Year, which the City of Cape Town won last year. A new category this year is the Outstanding Woman in Power/Water Award.

And the winners are:
Utility Executive of the Year

Sicelo Xulu
Sicelo Xulu (right) with Brett Grobbelaar, managing director – Resources South Africa at Accenture, picked up the gong for Utility Executive of the Year

City Power’s MD Sicelo Xulu who said: “I am honoured and humbled to be conferred this award. This award is a tribute to the exceptional work that the members of the executive and management team did, it pays homage to the untrammelled vision that the board and members have articulated and it is an acknowledgement of the diligent work done by the entire workforce of City Power which gave expression and impetus to this vision.”
Xulu, who is also the President of the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities of Southern Africa, led the Johannesburg utility in reducing billing losses by 10% and achieving a 98% meter reading by 2015, the organisers said in a statement.

The judging panel also noted that in light of the security of supply challenges, Xulu initiated Demand Side Management initiatives such as achieving an unqualified audit for City Power for the first time in four years and the Solar Water Heater programme, the largest in South Africa and City Power’s flagship programme.

Energy & Water Efficiency Project of the Year
South Africa retailer Ackermans won the Top Energy & Water Efficiency Project of the Year with project SWATT (saving watts initiative), an initiative aimed at reducing the energy footprint of the business and achieving the highest possible return on investment through reducing electricity costs.

The scope of the project included assessing the technology, control mechanisms and behaviour relating to energy usage in all Ackermans outlets nationwide, create an ongoing integrated energy management programme that could be driven by Ackerman’s management team and in which UGU Engineering Solutions plays a central role.

The judges said that SWATT was “an excellent project with well-documented savings and improved operations through use of technology.”

GM Ops Support at Ackermans Jonathan Pratt said: “We’re very proud to have won this award. For us it is very important to sustain this culture of energy efficiency and of giving back.”

He added: “We are particularly proud that most of the lights that we use are manufactured locally in Kuilsrivier, [Cape Town].”

According to Pratt, the Ackermans employees were “incredibly positive” in their response to the project.

“For them the energy that they save also means higher profits for their shops. SWATT was a combination of change management and technology and we can really measure it and are able to sustain the savings”, Pratt explained.

Outstanding Woman in Power/Water Award

Florence Nsubuga
Florence Nsubuga (right) receives her award for Outstanding Woman In Power/Water from Ayanda Nakedi of Eskom

Florence Nsubuga, Executive Director of UMEME, a Ugandan energy distribution network company takes the award for outstanding woman in power/water award.

Upon receiving her award, Nsubuga said: “I am humbled by this award. It takes me back to when I was a little girl and my grandmother, who was a farmer, and had no electricity so her days always ended early.”

She added: “Little did I know that I was able to later add so much value to her life as a farmer where she was able to be so much more productive when she got electricity. I am very proud to be part of that story.”

As former COO and now Executive Director of UMEME, Nsubuga oversees 600 direct permanent and another 1,000 indirect employees. Florence has delivered outstanding results through her leadership stand of empowerment, development; collaboration; accountability and integrity.

Municipality of the Year
Durban’s eThekwini municipality was recognised and rewarded for its communal ablution blocks (CABs) and for achieving an effective temporary solution to address the problem of inadequate provision of water and sanitation service delivery.

The CABs are modified shipping containers, each containing two showers, each with a door for privacy, two flushing toilets with doors, two hand basins and a small locked storeroom for cleaning materials.

Attached to the outside of each container are 4 basins used for washing clothes.

Lighting is provided at night and improves the safety of users, particularly the safety of women and children.

The CABs are connected to the municipal sewerage and water systems and are provided on 350 sites in informal settlements in pairs – one for women and one for men.

The judges described the CABs as “an excellent project that improved the lives of 500,000 residents of informal settlements. The award is very well deserved as the municipality solved problems and created jobs.”