Mozambican utility EDM (Electricidade de Moçambique), Azuri Technology, Siemens and two water sector pioneers were some of the big winners at the African Utility Week Industry Awards that took place in Cape Town on Wednesday evening. Hundreds of power and water professionals gathered to honour the top projects and people in the industries on the continent in the fifth edition of the awards gala as part of the African Utility Week conference and exhibition. EDM scored a double win with the award for the Power Utility of the Year as well as the Outstanding Contribution Award in Power for Dr Mateus Magala, EDM’s Chairman and CEO.
South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Energy, Ambassador Thembisile Majola, was the guest of honour at the awards gala which featured two new categories, namely Energy/Water Reporter of the Year and Digital Solution of the Year.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Winner: Prof Roland Schulze, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Roland Schulze pioneered formal scientific hydrological studies at South African universities by piloting the country’s first hydrology degree course in the early 1980s and then seeing the discipline grow from that of a single lecturer with a handful of students to a fully-fledged Centre for Water Resources Research.
Schulze has initiated and been involved in national and international level hydrological research for the past 50 years, and in applied climate change research in the fields of agriculture and water for the past 30 years.
“I’m proud not only for myself but also for the many colleagues and my family that have helped me achieve this,” Prof Schulze said after receiving his award. “My vision for the water industry in general is that we become more efficient in the use of water, particularly in light of population increases and climate change, which might cause us to have less water than we are used to in the future. And that means efficiency in the main sectors that use a lot of water such as agriculture, industry and households.”
Outstanding Contribution Award: Water
Winner: Dr Paul T. Yillia
Originally from Sierra Leone, Dr Paul T. Yillia has a broad understanding of water sector institutions, policies, strategies, and regulations with over 15 years of experience in operational and analytical work on water resources assessment and planning, as well as knowledge and experience in supporting institutions in operationalizing cross sector interactions between water, energy, environment and other global development themes.
From 2014 to 2017, he was recruited by United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) as Lead Policy Specialist to support the overall operational process of SEforALL. Dr Yillia is currently a guest research scholar with the Water (WAT) Program at IIASA and visiting scholar at Vienna University of Technology.
“I’m really grateful for this prestigious award, it’s really big”, said a beaming Dr Yillia, who also celebrated his fiftieth birthday on Wednesday. “I have a positive vision for the water sector in Africa although the challenges are huge. I believe Africa is growing, the population is growing and becoming more affluent and more resource intensive, and one of those resources is water. Combined with the climate change challenges, all of these need coordinated management, coordinated thinking and investment to address the water challenges in Africa.”
Innovative Technology of the Year Award
Winner: Azuri Technologies Ltd
AzuriTV was the first fully-integrated pay-as-you-go solar satellite TV package addressing rural off-grid consumers’ challenges of access to power, service coverage and the high up front cost of installation. Partnering with Mobicom Kenya, AzuriTV provides 58 satellite TV channels, 21 radio channels and includes a 24-inch television screen.
“Azuri is providing small scale solar power to thousands of households in Africa who don’t have access to mains electricity,” Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of Azuri Technology, said in a video message to the audience in Cape Town. He added: “this power gives people access to the basics of life: everything from lighting through to access to television with satellite content. This award is recognition of all the hard work, both in Azuri and our partners, and we are very honoured to have received the award and look forward to greater things to come.”
Energy/Water Reporter of the Year Award
Winner: Newton Sibanda, freelance journalist, Zambia
Newton Sibanda has been consistently and qualitatively covering energy and water issues for close to two decades, writing compelling articles for both local and international media. His work has not only had policy impact, but also inspired other journalists to cover the two areas. It is in this regard that in May, he was invited to attend the14th session of the UN Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD-14) at the UN Headquarters in New York where he presented a paper titled “Reporting on Energy Issues in Zambia.”
“I’m extremely humbled, very happy, especially as this is a pioneer category and being the first winner” said the Zambian veteran journalist on Wednesday evening. “I have been covering water, energy, sanitation, environmental issues and climate change for quite a long time. I worked for the Zambian Daily Mail for over two decades and also for other international media. I had the opportunity to specialise in issues that are a passion for me.”
Outstanding Contribution Award: Power
Winner: Dr Mateus Magala, CEO, Electricidade de Moçambique (EDM)
Dr Magala has been the Chairman and CEO of Electricity of Mozambique (EDM) since 2015 and has been responsible for the introduction of numerous reforms in the company, including the introduction of the Code of Ethics, full review of the organisational structure and measures that made it possible for the company to provide excellent quality services to the public and to increase the income, construction and expansion of infra-structures and maintenance of sustainable projects.
Under Mr Magala’s leadership, as part of EDM’s strategic objective to reach universal access by 2030, new connections were increased successfully in the second half of 2017. The number of connections increased from less than 200 per day in the first semester, to a peak of 5000 on the last day of the year, reaching a total of 150000. This push to connect revived a sense of pride and moved all workforces in the company to adhere to the transformation.
Power Utility of the Year Award
Winner: Electricidade De Moçambique (EDM)
Electricidade De Moçambique started a process of profound changes in 2015 with the aim to guide it to a totally different level of efficiency and efficacy, a pre-requisite to deal with the challenges to meet its obligations, both for the Government and for the Mozambicans. The company intends to achieve the universal access of energy and make Mozambique a power hub in Southern Africa by 2030.
“The awards are a reflection of the transformation journey that EDM has undertaken during the last 2.5 years” said Noel Govene, Chief Financial Officer of EDM, who received both awards on behalf of the Mozambican utility, “and it has really taken on the challenge to really transform the utility in Mozambique to what we believe are the three key pillars of the corporate strategy: namely to achieve universal access by 2030, to become an energy hub in Southern Africa and to achieve gender equality. The awards are testimony to a number of reforms already undertaken in the company to where we are today.”
Water Utility of the Year Award
Winner: Sénégalaise des Eaux (SDE)
The Sénégalaise des Eaux (SDE), a subsidiary of pan-African industrial group Eranove has been operating and managing the public drinking water service in urban areas of Senegal since 1996. The company’s performances during these two decades (1996-2016) have greatly contributed to the achievement by Senegal of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the field of drinking water service. The SDE’s expertise is a reference in francophone Africa today.
With nearly 1200 employees, the SDE supplies more than 6.5 million consumers each day through individual connections and standpipes. The SDE has a quality management system (ISO 9001) integrating the Safety (OHSAS 18001) and Environment (ISO 14001) dimensions. SDE was also the first QSE certified (Quality, Safety and Environment) water production and distribution company in Africa.
On Wednesday evening, Emmanuel Ndong, SDE’s Director for Information Systems said he was very happy and proud to receive the award on behalf of the Senegalese water utility and said it gave the company confidence to continue with its projects into the future.
Outstanding Contribution Award: Young Leader
Winner: Dr Rebekah Shirley
Dr. Rebekah Shirley is the Director of Research at Power for All, a coalition of more than 200 distributed renewable energy organizations (companies, NGOs, banks, trade associations) campaigning to achieve universal electricity access. A passionate woman and expert scientist from the African diaspora, Rebekah is using cutting edge technology to lead a new generation of energy researchers to tackle some of the sector’s biggest challenges.
Launched in 2014, Power for All works in some of the least electrified countries in Africa and recognized that the lack of awareness on advances and impacts of DRE technology was a major impediment to strategic energy decision-making. Rebekah came to the campaign in late 2015 to address this problem head-on. Over the past three years she has built the Platform for Energy Access Knowledge (PEAK) – a novel DRE research platform forged through industry-academic partnership with a mission to make data accessible, understandable and useable by Africa’s critical energy influencers—policy makers, financers, regulators.
Says Dr Shirley: “It is truly an honor to be recognized for the “behind-the-scenes” work my team at Power for All and I do. Research is not often an award highlight, but now more than ever, Africa needs innovators who understand how to make research, data and knowledge relevant to the public and leaders it serves. We have a huge opportunity to collectively address economic growth, climate change, poverty, food security, access to energy, water and healthcare, all of which are imminent and interconnected challenges. Sustainable solutions will require our institutions to deliver rigorous, applied, locally appropriate, interdisciplinary research and true partnership with industry. I hope to continue growing this capacity for critical thinking, bringing more African women into research to strengthen the gender voice, and fostering stronger communication and collaboration across the continent.”
Grid-Tied Renewable Energy Project Award (10MW+)
Winner: Xina Solar One Thermo Solar Plant, Abengoa, South Africa
Xina Solar One is located near Pofadder in the Northern Cape Province and is bordered to the north by Kaxu Solar One, the country’s first solar thermal plant in operation that uses parabolic troughs, which was also built by Abengoa. Both plants make up the largest solar platform in sub-Saharan Africa, reliably helping South Africa meet its ongoing energy demands.
The 100 MW Xina Solar One plant, completed in August 2017, features important technical improvements in its solar field and storage system which makes it a very competitive plant, using parabolic trough technology to generate renewable and sustainable and dispatchable power from the sun. It furthermore features a thermal energy storage system using molten salts that can store the necessary energy for a further 5.5 hour supply, and thereby assist in meeting the South African peak demand.
Abengoa’s Javier Payan said on Wednesday: “this project not only features very sophisticated technology but we have also created a community trust in Pofadder as well as socio-economic projects to improve the lives of the local community.”
Small-Scale Renewable Energy Project Award (Under 5MW)
Winner: Rafiki Power, Tanzania
Rafiki Power currently operates solar PV and battery mini-grid projects in ten villages in Tanzania, supplying electricity to more than 4000 people. Customers are connected to the distribution grid with pre-paid smart meters which enable mobile money payments and a fully automated control of the energy consumption. The solution provides electricity access for an average 24 hours, given expected demand levels.
Rafiki Power focuses on mini-grids because they are more cost-efficient, i.e. more than 50% cheaper than national grid extension and much faster to deploy. Furthermore, compared to other solutions, such as stand-alone systems, mini-grids provide reliable AC power enabling productive use and are long lasting (20+ years).
“We are very honoured to be the winners amongst the other finalists that are also really good rural projects,” said Adrian Mapunda, the GM of Rafiki Power after receiving his award. He added: “my message to prospective investors in small projects is that even though the PV industry is very capital intensive, it is still a solution to most of the African communities who do not have access to energy. Therefore, we as a company have done this, we know how it works, we’ve got the technology and the skilled people, and it can be done.”
Deal of the Year Award
Winner: Albatros Energy Mali
Albatros Energy Mali will build, own, operate and transfer a 90 megawatt (MW) thermal power station in Kayes, western Mali and it will be the West African nation’s first independent power project (IPP) to feed into the national grid, increasing effective baseload installed electricity capacity by circa 30%. The project’s shareholders are AIIM Seed Partnership (AIIF3), Redox Power Solutions, Burmeister & Wain Scandinavian Contractor (BWSC) and Denmark’s Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU).
Ruth Beckers of Albatros Energy Mali: “This project is going to change the lives of the people of Mali enormously, as the demand for electricity is huge. We are also doing quite a substantial corporate and social responsibility programme because we don’t want to just build a white elephant.”
Ashwin West of AIIM: ”As the first IPP in this country this is a groundbreaking project for the team and the government of Mali.”
Their message to other prospective investors in energy projects in Africa? “Don’t be scared,” says Ms Beckers, “do a good analysis of the country and find the right strong local partners.”
The Digital Solution of the Year Award
Siemens South Africa installed a micro grid solution at its headquarters in Johannesburg. The main aim of this is to showcase to customers a reference project that is enabled on site as well as to provide a basic and cost effective solution which will be a benefit to customers. This has also created an energy efficient campus generating its own green energy and providing a cost effective energy mix, including a combination of PV, diesel generators, the utility infeed and batteries.
“I have been promoting micro grids for rural areas all over Africa for several years now and it is nice to get an award and recognition for a project,” says Marco Rahner, Head of Technical Sales of the Digital Grid Division at Siemens South Africa. “We’re currently bidding for a project to do the same in Burundi for rural hospitals so that those communities can have a better life.”
The awards received major industry support in the form of sponsorships from Aberdare Cables, Eaton, ESI Africa, Lucy Electric, Mazars, SBS Tanks, Siemens, Standard Bank, and Steinmüller.
African Utility Week is the flagship energy event organised by the multi-award winning Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and part of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. Other well-known energy events by Spintelligent are Future Energy Nigeria and Future Energy East Africa. More events include Agritech Expo Zambia, Property Buyer Show, DRC Mining Week, Eduweek, Farm-Tech Expo Kenya, Nigeria Mining Week and the Mining Baraza in Kenya.