Interview with Lee-Byoungho, Director General at KEPCO, South Korea’s largest utility. KEPCO is a partner of the Korean Electrical Manufacturers Cooperative that is exhibiting for the first time at the upcoming African Utility Week in May.
1. Can you give us some background about the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)?
Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) is the largest electric utility in South Korea, responsible for generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. KEPCO is responsible for 93% of Korean electricity generation. Together with its affiliates and subsidiaries, KEPCO has an installed capacity of 65,383MW, and on the 2011 Fortune Global 500 ranking of the world’s largest companies, KEPCO was ranked 271. KEPCO is a member of the World Energy Council, the World Nuclear Association and the World Association of Nuclear Operators. As of August 2011, KEPCO possesses an A+ credit rating with Fitch Rating, while Moody’s has assigned KEPCO an A1 stable rating. The South Korean government owns a 51% share of KEPCO.
2. I am interested in your team, the “Partner Collaboration Team”. Can you give us some background and business area on your team?
The main role of the “Partner Collaboration Team” at KEPCO is to support and promote our partners, Korean small and medium enterprises (SMEs). We support SMEs’ businesses through various methods in order to grow together. We support Korean SMEs with R&D costs, overseas marketing, as well as financially to allow the businesses to be equipped to be competitive in the global market.
3. Why did you decide to partner with African Utility Week?
In 2013, we conducted a market research with SMEs, which intended to expand the business abroad. According to the survey result, South Africa was the most popular choice among others. Until recently, African market was considered too far to expand from Korea. But thoughts are changing rapidly now so we hope our Korean companies could develop the African market through AUW.
4. How many companies will join the “Korean Pavilion” and what kind of products will they bring?
This year, we expect 10 companies will take part in African Utility Week 2014 in our “Korean pavilion”. Products of those companies include from the T&D sector, such as consisted control devices, metering, switches, substation automation and so on.
5. What is the special strength of Korean Products? /What makes your members (or companies) competitive in this market?
Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) has maintained outstanding electric power quality since its establishment 116 years ago. From power plants to households, we have accomplished a vertical integration in electric energy. Most of our partner companies whose equipment is widely used by KEPCO are striving to become competitive in the market and they satisfy high standards set by KEPCO. Also, KEPCO is accelerating the development of new technologies such as smart grids, environment friendly power generation and renewable energy sources.
6. What do you see as the major challenges in the utility sphere in Korea?
Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) is investing heavily in smart grids as a new growth engine. A smart grid could not only prepare for strengthened environmental regulations but provide opportunities for a variety of fields including IT systems, electric meters and remote control systems. So we expect that smart grids could be an important means for improving Korea’s competitiveness in the world. In addition, KEPCO is attempting and accomplishing in wind energy resources and renewable energy fields.
7. Are there similarities to the South Africa/Africa industry?
Korea has achieved fast economic growth since the Korean War in 1950. From the debris of the Korean War, it has succeeded in creating and developing power infrastructures, which are large enough to meet the demand from the industries, in a short time. From these experiences, Korea could be a good example for African countries which are rushing to develop power infrastructure.
8. What opportunities do you see in South Africa/Africa?
The projects in Nigeria and South Africa which we secured a few years ago are currently underway. As there is a variety of successful backgrounds in those projects, KEPCO could find more chances to expand business opportunities into African countries. As I mentioned before, KEPCO expects to have more opportunities in Africa because Korea could be a good example for developing countries.
9. What projects are you currently most excited about?
We are interested in any projects that Korean small and medium sized businesses could participate in and make a profit. Also, KEPCO is not only doing numerous projects to build a new generating station, O&M, T&D all over the world but consulting business is in progress. In other words, we are involved in all sectors related to the power industry.
10. What will be your specific message at the event?
As far as we know, AUW is a kind of event for the power industry in African region. We hope AUW will become more well known beyond Africa. In addition, we hope that KEPCO and our partners will get good results through AUW.
11. What is the vision for the Korea’s electric power industry?
KEPCO set “Global Top Green & Smart Energy Pioneer” as the new vision to carry out its transformation into an energy company driving global green growth. KEPCO is not only working to secure a top-class competitive edge through the development of green and smart technology but also enhancing quality of life, protecting the environment, and seeking opportunities in overseas markets. This vision is expected to contribute to the development of Korean industry, society and economy, as well as raise KEPCO’s global profile. KEPCO has identified “New Areas, New Contents” as a way to counter the uncertain business environment and innovation persistently.
12. Anything you would like to add?
We hope this event provides an opportunity for all of our partner companies to enter the African electricity equipment market.