Africa is a market of untapped opportunities with demand for electrical transmission and distribution infrastructure and equipment set to increase significantly as the global economy recovers and electricity consumption is expected to grow at a rate of 3.4% per year up until 2020. Currently the biggest exporters of power on the continent include South Africa, Ghana and Zambia.
The newly appointed Chair of the DistribuTECH Africa Advisory Board and recognised leader in the Transmission and Distribution (T&D) industry Dr. Willem de Beer, comments:
It is widely acknowledged that a reliable and sustainable electricity supply infrastructure is critical to ensure amongst others, economic growth, business sustainability and job creation. Africa presents various business opportunities within the electricity generation, transmission and distribution sector. South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania are a few examples of countries where significant infrastructure investment will take place over the next few years.
De Beer adds that effective asset and resource management requires a great deal of focus while the introduction of renewable energy options and smart grids presents new and untapped opportunities.
While the generation sector is receiving significant attention, it is generally acknowledged that there is an urgent need for a well-structured convention to debate and explore opportunities within the T&D sector. A well-managed transmission and distribution business must be financially sustainable. In addition to the focus on assets, infrastructure and resources, it is also critical to effectively manage the customer interface and aspects such as revenue collection.
De Beer urges fellow professionals to share views about the significant opportunities for growth through effective management of 21st century challenges related to electricity supply infrastructure by submitting an abstract for consideration as a speaker at the upcoming DistribuTECH Africa 2013 conference.
The inaugural DistribuTECH Africa 2013 conference and exhibition, to be held from 30 October 1 November 2013 at Sandton Convention in Johannesburg, South Africa will bring African nations together to share experiences and to explore solutions regarding the potential to be a prime mover in developing smart energy systems from scratch.
This conference and exhibition provides a timely opportunity for leaders, planners, technical experts, suppliers, investors, regulators and policy makers to discuss how corrective measures can be implemented to achieve more reliable, efficient and secure power supplies in the years to come.
The unpredictability of power supply in many African countries is one of the main challenges constraining economic and social development. Only 53% of urban and 8% of rural populations in sub-Saharan Africa have access to electricity as compared to 99% and 88% respectively in Northern Africa.
Investment in modern energy infrastructure and the latest power engineering technologies is essential for manufacturing, processing, storage and transportation,
as well as the development of small-scale enterprises across the region.
According to de Beer, grid connection across Africa is inconsistent with an average of 20 percent connection across the continent. Strong economic growth is driving power demand but the inability of utilities to guarantee reliable power supplies is acting as a constraint for further growth and is hampering investment in vital energy intensive sectors such as mining.
Within the area of transmission & distribution, utilities face a multitude of challenges with the most significant being high loss levels, collecting revenues, managing demand, uneconomic tariffs and coping with narrow reserve margins.
DistribuTECH Africa follows the success of the first POWER-GEN Africa Conference and Exhibition organised by PennWell International and hosted in Sandton, Johannesburg in November last year.
DistribuTECH Africa will also provide speakers from the transmission and distribution sector, the ideal opportunity to address senior management and professionals from utilities, regulatory and service provider companies to discuss the latest information, technologies, communication solutions and trends impacting the future growth of Africa’s power supply (on-grid and off-grid electricity).
Under the theme Equipping Utilities for the Future, DistribuTECH Africa seeks to accelerate improvements through more intense and systematic knowledge sharing and supporting partnerships between operators.