Sustainability, risk management top issues for African power

Sustainability, risk management top issues for African power

Africa’s power utilities are grappling with issues of sustainability, risk management and the introduction of value added services as they strive to meet the economic growth demands of the continent.

Speaking ahead of Africa’s premier power sector stakeholder forum, POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa 2017, Dr. Willie de Beer, veteran power industry consultant and chairman of the POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa board, says Africa’s power sector faces a range of new challenges. “Our programme directors staged a roadshow through a number of African countries earlier this year, to assess the issues that were top of mind. What emerged strongly was that utilities across Africa are confronted with the challenge of sustainability,” he says.

“We see the roll-out of renewables, which the continent needs, but this is changing the profile of traditional energy businesses. They are questioning how they can embrace renewables and remain sustainable with new business models and complimentary revenue streams that ensure their infrastructure and systems investments can be leveraged and optimised.”

Another top of mind theme across the continent is still the roll-out of electrification across vast areas of Africa. “In this respect, South Africa can bring a lot of learnings to the table as we also started with a serious backlog and have made good progress,” de Beer says. In addition, asset management will always be on the continent’s agenda, he says. “However, there is now a new dimension to the subject, since investors are now looking more closely at how you manage the assets built with the money they lent you. So the focus is moving from just maintenance to holistic asset management and risk management, covering the entire life cycle from inception to retirement.”

Risk management, he notes, extends beyond the classical financial risk, to include business risk and the operating environment and governance structure amid new credit rating challenges.

Dr. de Beer says these new challenges will dominate the agenda at POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa 2017 in Sandton next month.

As a key platform for power sector stakeholders across Africa, POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa addresses the leading challenges and strives to stimulate debate that leads to answers, he says. “Over the years, the papers presented and quality of speakers has improved substantially. The sector uses it to convey strong messages, demonstrate competence and thought leadership capability, which is why visitors and suppliers return year after year.” Over the past few years, the delivery of the keynote by South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises has also brought a message of consistency in terms of the need for the power sector to progress in support of overall economic development, he notes.

The conference, a prime networking event for utilities, governments, engineers, academia and power businesses, will cover strategy, technology, regulatory and business developments across the sector. “We will also be building on the highly topical nuclear track, aiming to take the discussion to the next level. We will question where within the broader energy mix, is the home for nuclear or hydro for grid stability. We will also debate what is required for optimal grid and network stability,” de Beer says.

POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa 2017 will be staged from 18 – 20 July at the Sandton Convention Centre. The event is attended by over 3,000 power industry stakeholders, utilities and sub-Saharan government officials from pan-Africa and abroad.  For more information, go to

Access to the exhibition area is free to all visitors. To collect a free pass to the exhibition area, go to

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