Women dominate the African Utility Week Industry Awards in Cape Town
Women are making an invaluable contribution to the power and water industries, as reflected by the many women winners at the 2017 African Utility Week Industry Awards in Cape Town last week. Three of the awards (Lifetime Achievement, Outstanding Contribution to Power, Young Energy Leader Award) were won by women.
More than 750 top level power and water professionals attended the fourth edition of the African Utility Week Industry Awards gala dinner which honour pioneering utilities, projects and people in the energy and water industry on the continent.
Scene from the African Utility Week Industry Award, Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town
Lifetime achievement award:
Winner: Helen Tarnoy, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Aldwych International Ltd, United Kingdom, an engineering company that has been involved in some of the most successful independent power projects on the African continent.
“I first went to Africa in 1998 and I have never left; so I have almost 20 years of working in the independent power sector in Africa,” Helen said in a pre-recorded video acceptance speech. “I won’t say that it wasn’t a struggle in the beginning, it was. There was a lot of education to be done about how private companies could contribute to the economies of the countries in which they were working by providing sustainable power at an affordable price. That is still what we aim to do today. The difference today is that we are seeing more and more people coming into the market.”
Outstanding contribution award: Water
Winner: Philip Gichuki, Managing Director, Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company, Kenya
“It is a great honour to win this award,” said an overjoyed Eng. Gichuki on Wednesday evening. He continued: “this is meant for my staff. It is this dedicated team that has made this happen. I look forward to continue to work with them every day in order to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Outstanding Woman of the Year in Power/Water
Winner: Rose Kaggwa, Director: Business and Scientific Services, National Water and Sewerage Corporation, Uganda
“Women must aim to be the best they can be, because at the end of the day, the best multi-tasker is a woman,” Rose Kaggwa said after receiving her award, adding “in order for us to create change, when we say ‘water for all’ and we say ‘sanitation is a right’ it cannot be done without women. So women must rise up and begin to speak.”
Power Utility of the Year
Winner: Ethiopian Electric Power, Ethiopia
Mr Abeb Kahsay, Executive Officer of EEP received this very prestigious award for the company: “It is an honour to be here and hold this award. It is a sign of the success of what we have achieved so far. It will strengthen us for the future to work even harder to serve our people so that we can address the problems of the community.”
Water Utility of the Year
Winner: Lilongwe Water Board, Malawi
“We have made a lot of improvements and innovations in the last couple of years and this has made a difference in how we deliver our service in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi,” said a very pleased Alfonso Chikuni , CEO of Lilongwe Water Board, on Wednesday evening. “This award is for all the employees of Lilongwe Water Board who really took to the new institutional direction and approach that we had to take before we could produce results.”
Winners of the Industry Awards gather for a group picture
Large Scale Renewable Energy Project (10MW+)
Winner: Bokpoort CSP Power Plant, ACWA Power, ACWA POWER, South Africa
Nandu D Bhula is the CEO of the power plant: “this is the second time we have won an award here, the first time we won for Community Project of the Year, now we are recognised for being the best Large Scale Renewable Energy Project. With CSP being a renewable project with some storage makes it a reliable load following operator, so it gives the best of both worlds which is fantastic. For Bokpoort it is just amazing to be the pioneer of, what I think, a revolution in the solar industry.”
Small-Scale Sustainable Energy Project (under 5MW)
Stortemelk Hydro, Renewable Energy Holdings, South Africa
“It is a great honour for us to be recognised amongst all our peers across the continent. There are not many small scale projects such as ours around in South Africa so we sometimes feel a little bit on our own. We do our best to try and keep the standard high so for me and my team this is great encouragement that we are going in the right direction” – this is according to Anton-Louis Olivier, MD of Stortemelk Hydro.
Technology of the Year
Winner: Solar Turtle, South Africa
“What is really unique about Solar Turtle are the safety features for women working in high crime rate areas such as informal settlements, rural communities or war-torn countries of the world. That is what we are really hoping to achieve. Not just making examples for the next generation of women to follow, but doing it safely.” So said James van der Walt, CEO of Solar Turtle, who accepted the award at the gala dinner on Wednesday night.
Deal of the Year
Winner: 100MW Kathu Solar Park Project, Engie, South Africa
“This is really a great achievement by a large, multi-disciplinary team and we are very proud of this award,” said a delighted Maarten van der Horst, Director and Chief Business Development for power and gas investments at ENGIE Africa, after receiving the award. He continued: ”we are also very grateful and proud of the engagement we received from the local community and from the national government. At the moment the construction is very much underway, the financial close took place in May 2016 and the construction is on track within the timelines and COD is anticipated at the end of 2018. We are making every effort to deliver and stick to that timeline.”
Outstanding Contribution Award: Power
Winner: Charlotte Aubin-Kalaidjian, Founding Partner, GreenWish Partners, France, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire & Nigeria
Charlotte thanked the award audience via video message: “We all have a duty to respond to Africa’s pressing energy deficit. Renewable energy together with innovative business models are at the core of the solution. By giving me this award you are proving that I was right in the path that I chose eight years ago. I am grateful for your trust, especially as a woman entrepreneur.”
Young Energy Leader
Winner: Fatima Oyiza Ademoh, Founder & CEO, Ajima Youth Empowerment Foundation, Nigeria
Fatima also spoke in a video message after she was announced the winner: “I want to thank all those who have believed in my quest to extend electricity access to off-grid communities, especially in the Waste-2-Watt (W2W) Project. And for all the young people out there, let’s keep being the agents for change in our communities.”
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.