May 19, 2020

Africa’s top solar power projects

solar power
Renewable Energy
Green Energy
Polycarp Kazaresam
2 min
Africa’s top solar power projects

Africa: the prime location for solar power generation. Sunlight is plentiful and the demand for power is rapidly increasing.  However, there are hurdles in solar power development. Because of the newness of technology and bureaucratic limitations, the renewable process currently makes up less than 1 percent of Africa’s power generation.

Fortunately, several solar plant developers remain undeterred. We take a look at the projects harnessing Africa’s solar potential:

Democratic Republic of Congo

Last month, American energy service SolarCity built a solar power and battery minigrid system at Virunga National Park. SolarCity provided the installation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, along with engineering, design and training for the Virunga community. The end result? 200 solar panels, 7 Tesla Powerwalls, 7 SolarEdge inverters, along with lights and plugs for dozens of buildings.

Ghana

Renewable energy company Blue Energy Group is planning to build Africa’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) power plant. According the company, its 155-megawatt Nzema project will boost Ghana’s current generating capacity by 6 percent and meet 20 percent of the government’s target of generating 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The $350 million scheme is set to be fully operational in 2017.

Uganda

Access Uganda Solar Ltd has partnered with the Uganda Ministry of Energy to build what will be the largest privately funded solar power plant in East Africa. The $19 million project will provide clean electricity to 40,000 homes and businesses in Uganda, the company said. Set in Uganda’s Soroti district, the plant will provide 10 megawatts of power.

Rwanda

Less than 15 percent of Rwanda's population have access to electricity. A joint bid by Gigawatt Global, Norfund and Scatec Solar aims to increase this statistic. Backed by Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative, the plant produced an estimated 15 million kilowatt hours in its first year. The project has created 350 local jobs and increased Rwanda’s generation capacity by 6 percent, powering more than 15,000 homes. Bonus: the plant resembles the shape of Africa from a bird’s eye view.

Morocco

In February 2016, Morocco launched Noor 1, the first phase of the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world. The facility produces more than 175 megawatts of power, and provides electricity to at least 75,000 homes a year.
 

African Business Review’s October issue is now live.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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