May 19, 2020

Is Southern Africa about to become ‘energy sufficient?'

Democratic Republic of Congo
SADC
Energy
South Africa
mahlokoane percy ngwato
3 min
Is Southern Africa about to become ‘energy sufficient?'

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Energy Ministers representing Southern Africa have stated that the Southern Region of Africa would achieve energy sufficiency by 2019, simultaneously eliminating its current 8,247 megawatt (MW) shortfall.

Statements regarding the future of energy production were made at a meeting of the South African Development Community (SADC).

They highlighted that projects currently under construction would mature by this time, contributing an additional 24,062 MW. Revamping existing power plants also has the potential to produce a surplus of 15 percent.

The group expects that up to 70 percent of the 24,062 MW of new generation capacity will be produced from renewable sources.

Remmy Makumbe, director of SADC’s infrastructure and services directorate, noted that the lion’s share of the non-renewably generated energy would be produced by South Africa’s two new major coal-fired power stations, Medupe and Kusile, which are currently still in the construction phase. Once completed, they will have a combined capacity output of over 9,000 MW.

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The ministers said in a statement that since 2014, the 13 mainland SADC member states had commissioned 2,199 MW of generation capacity from both new and rehabilitated power plants.

This number comprised; Angola 150 MW; South Africa 1,654 MW, Mozambique 150 MW and Zambia 245 MW.

The meeting revealed that South Africa still leads the way in generation capacity; over 80 percent of the SADC members’ newly generated renewable energy has been a direct result of the country’s Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

The ministers in attendance commended South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for ratifying a treaty on the development of the Grand Inga Hydropower Project; which South Africa has agreed to take 2,500 MW of power from the next phase, Inga 3.

Makumbe and other energy ministers resolved to fast-track transmission projects that will bring Angola, Malawi and Tanzania into the 12-nation Southern African Power Pool, which is a common power grid and a common market for electricity in Southern Africa.

He also highlighted that said that ministers had agreed that by 2019 all member states should charge tariffs for electricity that properly reflected the production costs. So far only Namibia and Tanzania had achieved what he called “cost reflectivity.”

He made his case for cost-reflective prices, stating that these measures would reduce the cost burden of states, recover the costs of constructing new and existing power plants and would also encourage independent producers to invest in establishing new plants.

Read the August Issue of African Business Review. 

Source: [Business Report]

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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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