Electricity + Control

Urging faster, more innovative power generation and distribution, pan-African power experts attending POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa this week predict that Africa could share infrastructure, knowledge and skills to take affordable, reliable and cleaner power across the continent.

Speaking at the opening at the Sandton Convention Centre on Tuesday 18 July, high-level pan-African power stakeholders said transformation was taking place, but that the pace of change was still too slow. They urged closer collaboration and innovation to take power to the 600 million people in Africa who still had no access to electricity, as well as to support industrialisation across the continent.

Group at African super grid

Nigel Blackaby, Conference Director (POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa), Feraye Gurel (Event Director), Leon Viljoen (Managing Director, ABB Southern Africa), Lynne Brown (Minister, Ministry of Public Enterprises, South Africa), Eskom's Interim Chairman, Zethembe Khoza. George Njenga, Regional Executive, Steam Power Systems, Sub-Sahara Africa at GE Power South Africa. Glen Ensore (Managing Director, PennWell Corporation).

Minister Brown said: “While it is a fact that Eskom’s operational performance has significantly improved, Eskom has also been embroiled in a series of serious allegations of maladministration and corruption. None of the allegations have been proven in a court of law yet, but they have fundamentally eroded integrity. Certain matters are now in court and I am constrained to say more about them. But let me say as the shareholder representative, I have recently had reason to question the veracity of some of the answers that I have been given. I therefore instituted various measures, including changing the board, and establishing a deep dive investigation to be conducted by South Africa’s official investigation unit into all the allegations of impropriety that have surfaced at Eskom over the past ten years.”

South African Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown

“In satellite photos, Europe, North America and other regions are lit up like Christmas trees, while Africa remained the ‘dark continent’. When our grandchildren look at satellite images, they should see an Africa that has truly emerged from the darkness: an electrified and industrialised Africa, with infrastructure and skills.”

Eskom's new Interim Chairman, Zethembe Khoza

“One day, Africa could unite for a single super-grid that could be the envy of the world. But in Africa there is a need to balance affordability with reliability and environmental sustainability. We need to think big and act fast. At Eskom, we are currently undertaking the largest build programme in Africa. Our aspiration is to pursue a more diverse energy mix, with the objective of reducing the utility’s relative emissions and subsequently to reduce its absolute emissions.”

Leon Viljoen, Managing Director of ABB Southern Africa

“New technologies and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) could spur development and progress in the power sector. Automation took power sector productivity from a baseline of 50% to 65%. Then centralisation and ERP systems took us to 80% in most power plants. We believe that productivity can be increased from 80% to closer to 95% by collaboration in an IIoT environment. Big data analysis also stood to reduce costs, improve profitability and availability in power plants. The amount of data generated by power plants is overwhelming, but in many cases very little of it is harnessed; it is isolated from subject matter experts and best practices are not always utilised.”

George Njenga, Regional Executive, Steam Power Systems, Sub-Sahara Africa at GE Power South Africa,

“The past year had been characterised by international developments that had impacted Africa’s power sector. The disruptions we see in the world today can only be expected to increase. Our challenge is to be proactive, to take courage, and be innovative to bring more power, faster and more sustainably to Africa.”

Enquiries: Visit www.powergenafrica.com/index.html

 
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