East Africa should continue to invest in its energy sector, while prioritizing further market liberalization, boosting grid stability and grid connection

Exclusive interview with Sliman Abu Amara, Business Development Director Africa DNV GL – Energy – bronze sponsors at the upcoming EAPIC in Nairobi in September.

The 16th annual East African Power Industry Convention (EAPIC) boasts a world-class conference combined with a large showcase of technologies, solutions and services across the entire range of the East African power sector value chain, from generation and transmission to distribution.

What are the projects that your company is involved in currently in East Africa that you are most excited about?

We are on the forefront of the energy transition in East Africa.  In fact, we are involved in the most in innovative projects that tackle the electricity deficit in Kenya and provide confidence in the future electrification of Africa, including the incorporation of renewables.  We are demonstrating our commitment to modernising and developing power in Africa by advising KETRACO on the construction of a 400kV high voltage overhead transmission line and substations in Kenya. Designed to strengthen the Kenyan grid and build a connection between the capital, Nairobi, and one of the largest wind farms in Africa, Lake Turkana Wind Power, the 426km high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission line runs from the national grid at Suswa (80km NW of Nairobi) to Loiyangalani (SE of Lake Turkana).

Dr. John Mativo, Chief Manager Planning and Development at KETRACO said: “Improving the quality and reliability of electricity supply throughout Kenya is crucial to the continued growth of our economy. The 400kV transmission line project plays a critical role in this and will help to develop a new and robust national grid system. DNV GL’s in-depth technical expertise and leading global advisory services have proven invaluable to the success of this project, which is paving the way for Kenya to produce clean, reliable power and transmit electricity to areas that are currently not supplied.” http://dnvgl.com/news-events/news/ketraco.aspx

What makes DNV-GL competitive in this market?

DNV GL, the world’s largest resource of independent energy experts (uniting DNV, KEMA, Garrad Hassan, GL Certification), is the industry leader in providing  innovative consulting and impartial testing/inspection/certification services across the energy value chain.  Clients appreciate our independence and the corresponding high-quality work of our engineers.  We offer exceptional international experience in grid studies and renewable energy projects, especially in wind and solar. As a result of our expertise and our investment in joint industry projects such as those involving HVDC, Energy Storage and other key enablers, (5% of our revenue) we are leading the way to smart electrification in Africa.  And we are witnessing a very fast growing interest among African clients in doing business with us due to our shared-interest approach and our unique level of customer intimacy.   Though our informed perspectives on the Energy Trilemma, we believe  that an integrated approach to the development of the grid and renewables technology (together with the regulated markets which bind them together) is key to ensuring that our energy systems become cleaner, whilst remaining affordable and secure. We take a leading role in this change.

What in your view are the main challenges for the power industry in East Africa?

Energy insecurity poses risk to economic growth in East Africa – but it can be mitigated with proper regional energy risk management. In order to meet the huge energy hunger and electrification challenge, many Eastern African countries are developing and implementing plans for large renewable energy projects. These projects present specific challenges relating overall grid stability and capacity to adapt to extreme events, such as weather, wildfires and other unpredictable occurrences. A very robust and holistic risk management approach can mitigate risk and increase resilience, which can in turn lower cost and accelerate progress. For 150 years, DNV GL has been building an enduring legacy in providing risk management solutions to industry, and shared its perspectives on the African situation in a recently-published a paper, “Energy-hungry Africa needs technical risk management for durable growth”.

What is your vision for the industry?

Global economic pressures and a shifting energy policy landscape have led to reduced levels of subsidy in many leading national markets. Virtually all sources of energy are subsidised but renewable energy subsidies have been disproportionately blamed for rising consumer energy bills in public discourse. Renewable energy will be the future, but the industry has to do all it can to drive down costs. Technologies like offshore wind and energy storage, but also smaller scale renewables, are still too expensive. On the positive side, onshore wind and solar are reaching cost parity with conventional generation sources. DNV GL will be able to help the African continent in this transition towards a reliable, sustainable and cost efficient energy supply

What surprises you about this industry?

The very fast speed of development in many Eastern African countries is simply astonishing.  We see major large electrification and grid expansion in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.  As countries strive to accelerate socioeconomic transformation, and as growth takes hold in many parts of Eastern Africa, sustaining it with proper development and accessibility of affordable energy is quite important.  We are excited to be part of the change that is rapidly evolving along the energy landscape in this region.  Accelerating the transition to a safer, smarter and greener energy supply is a shared interest between DNV GL and our African clients.

Why did you decide to partner with EAPIC as a sponsor?

Your excellent relationship, both with Eastern African utilities and key relevant stakeholders in the energy sector, makes you the ideal partner through which we can share our insights on the energy transition across the continent.

What will be your message at EAPIC in September?

East Africa should continue to invest in its energy sector, while prioritizing further market liberalization, boosting grid stability and grid connection, and accelerating renewables integration as it facilitates regional trade through expanded grid-interconnection. DNV GL is the leading expert on Africa – from risk management to grid studies and renewables integration, and is the partner of choice for affordable, reliable and clean power in Africa.

Anything you would like to add?


We’ve been a market leader in Renewables for two decades

We are a world leader in High Power & High Voltage Testing – 10 laboratories worldwide

We operate a state-of-the-art Energy Storage Commercialization Center in NY

We have 30 years of experience and market leadership in Energy Efficiency

We have 3,000 energy experts focusing on the industry – from policy to use

We invest 5% of our annual revenue in industry research & development

We have lead hundreds of successful smart grid projects

We’re involved in developing hundreds of industry standards  & guidelines

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