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.”