Exclusive interview with Christo Nicholls, CEO: EPG Smart Utility Solution Division. The Edison Power Group is a returning platinum sponsor at African Utility Week in Cape Town in May.
a. What EPG projects/success stories are you currently most excited about?
The achievements on the biggest smart meter roll-out project on the African continent at City Power, is undoubtedly a source of excitement for the group. What excites explicitly is the ability to provide feedback to the industry on what was achieved, versus what is still to be achieved. Hence, spearheading a culture within the African smart metering space of talking in past versus future tense with regards to actual achievements in this domain.
Also, other exciting news is the tangible growth witnessed within the Smart Utility Solutions offering of EPG, of which we’ll soon share some key achievements and insights.
b. What makes EPG competitive in this market?
As EPG is focussed on providing customised and tangible value adding services to utilities within the African space, our holistic approach introduces an agile, product agnostic and resource and facility establishment culture. This culture is key in contributing towards the major differentiators as a group, namely: swift decision making, mass roll-out operations- capacity-readiness as well as a myriad of business models fitting for the African market.
c. What do you see as the major challenges in the utility sphere at the moment?
Within the African space there are two major giants hampering the progressive infiltration of smart technologies and solutions, which is due to contribute significantly towards the broader infrastructure expansion and subsequent maintenance objectives with Africa, namely: 1. A lack of localised skilled resources and properly equipped facilities; 2. A lack of innovative, yet legislated funding options encouraging a long-term, partnership-based versus the pre-historic tender base models still dictating the roll-out enterprise-sized and bleeding edge solutions.
d. What is your vision for the energy industry?
Our vision for the energy industry within the African utility space is to become an active partner alongside Africa to help establish a self-sustaining and profitable energy sector leveraging on the best technologies the world has to offer, however, deployed, managed and operated by Africa-based skilled resources within well-equipped facilities guided by Africa-specific-tailored business processes and supporting standard operating procedures. This we believe will form the corner stone in the massive onslaught required against a few (amongst many) African-based giants, namely: 1. A growing generation of potential-filled, however unskilled Youth; 2. A growing trend of where the exodus of well trained and sharp African minds are crippling the required enterprise-sized growth required on the continent.
e. What opportunities do you see in South Africa/Africa?
We believe where there are major issues there are major opportunity, hence there ample opportunities to help address, the difficult Mexican stand-off between: a lack of funds to fund the urgently required infrastructure expansion versus immediate need for sustainable and reliable request for electricity and water within the vast growing residential and commercial and industrial sectors versus the battle against ensuring a healthy balance between the cost of supply and rate of revenue recovery
f. Why did you decide to partner with African Utility Week again?
The African Utility Week is one of the few opportunities offered on the continent where decision makers within the Africa-based utility space can gather to discuss matters of importance explicit to Africa.
g. What will be your specific message at the event?
One of the key messages we want to disperse throughout the duration of the event, and hopefully thereafter, is the fact that the Edison Power Group (EPG) Smart Utility Solution Division is putting out their hand to come alongside the utilities within Africa and through a pragmatic, transparent and symbiotic-in-nature partnership, is starting to solve the actual issues within the utility space, opposed to punting the next best technology on the market only. This we intend to do via ensuring we accurately map the relevant technology, create the required skill base, erect the needed facilities and assist in getting the necessary policies and processes in place, all to deliver a sustainable, cost effective and most importantly, benefit-delivering solution for Africa and its utilities.
h. What are you most looking forward to at African Utility Week?
The opportunity to hear what Africa’s needs are in order to ensure a dynamic and continual alignment to the utilities in Africa as one of their preferred solutions partners.
i. Anything you would like to add?
Indeed, as EPG Smart Utilities Solutions Division, I would like to commend the organising committee on not only hosting, but also successfully ensuring the sustainable continuation of this pivotal platform for dialogue and networking within the African utility space. Well done.