Africa moves to increase power infrastructure
Africa’s power demands are soaring beyond the capacity of an ageing infrastructure to cope, but multiple programmes are being put in place to address the challenges.
This is according to Dr Willie de Beer, Chairman of the DistribuTECH Africa Advisory Board.
Pretoria based energy expert De Beer was speaking at DistribuTECH International/Utility Products in San Antonio, Texas, where nearly 10,000 delegates from 67 countries gathered to discuss global power trends and challenges last month.
He said that Africa’s total power demand in 2010 was 590 TWh, projected to grow to 3100 TWh by 2040 on the back of an ever-increasing demand for energy.
“The population of Africa is projected to reach 1.9 billion by 2050 and customer expectations are on the increase,” he said.
De Beer said that while there were pockets of power excellence and high levels of stability across the continent, the need for investment and upgrades was clear.
However, South Africa and the continent as a whole, was taking steps to address the challenges.
De Beer noted that Africa is part of the Smart Grid infrastructure investment by 45 emerging market countries, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which over the next decade will reach $274.9 billion, outpacing investment by developed countries.
In addition, Africa and South Africa’s investment is particularly focused on reducing electricity theft, improving reliability and incorporating renewable energy into electricity grids, and Africa is a key focus for the US, benefiting from President Barack Obama’s grant package worth $7 billion in government funding plus an additional $9 billion in private sector commitments.
De Beer told delegates: “Eskom, South Africa’s national electricity company and DistribuTECH Africa’s Host Utility & Networking Sponsor, plans to spend over $150 billion on power infrastructure over the 2010-2030 timeframe, including $11 billion on transmission-sector reliability alone and pilot projects over the next 10 years.”
Africa’s plans to address power challenges and meet the future demands of an increasingly industrialised continent will come under in-depth discussion at POWER-GEN Africa and DistribuTECH Africa in Cape Town in March.
These events, co-located for the first time at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 17 - 19 March 2014, will attract around 3,000 industry experts and power industry professionals from across Africa and abroad.
The event, presented by PennWell Events, will feature the best of the international POWER-GEN and DistribuTECH events, combined with an in-depth focus on Africa’s unique challenges and opportunities.
The world’s leading power engineering vendors will also present solutions designed to address Africa’s unique power challenges.
De Beer notes: “Facilitating economic development, smart grids and the role of emerging technology are just some of the solutions the inaugural DistribuTECH AFRICA event will present to help Africa to achieve successful strategies for long-term, sustainable solutions.”
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.