High-level pan-African power experts attending the PowerGen 2017 & DistribuTECH Africa 2017 conference in Johannesburg, South Africa agreed that they should share skills and knowledge to take affordable, cleaner power across the whole continent.

The power stakeholders said that while transformation was already taking place in Africa, it was happening at a slow pace and they recommended that those attending the conference should collaborate and share innovative ideas to provide power to the 600-million Africans who still do not have access to a stable electricity supply.

The PowerGen & DistribuTECH Africa 2017 conference and exhibition event is one of the most anticipated events in the energy industry in Africa. Hosted in Sandton, Johannesburg, the event this year, which ran from 18 to 20 July 2017, attracted industry experts and key stakeholders who exchanged expertise in the hope of creating a brighter future for African power. One of the key themes this year was harnessing private and public partnerships to leverage the latest technologies in the energy industry to accelerate power distribution across Africa.

GE has been a key player in  providing innovative energy solutions for the African energy sector since  1898. George Njenga, GE Power Regional Executive, Sub-Saharan Africa, during his keynote address at PowerGen, told delegates that the technology available today can be employed to create reliable, sustainable, localised and more efficient energy networks.

Njenga said: “Our own electricity industry is undergoing massive transformation and the more than 100-year-old linear model of electricity is being challenged, tested and recreated as the rules of electrification are shifting with wide-reaching impact.”

Energy innovation in Africa

The new Medupi and Kusile Power Plants in South Africa are utilising GE’s smarter, cleaner steam technology solutions to reduce operating costs and CO2 emissions by up to 2%.

Renewable energy has come to the forefront in recent years as the energy industry reduces its carbon footprint. In Uganda, the largest solar power plant in East Africa has been commissioned. This solar plant will supply 10MW of solar power to approximately 40,000 people. Renewable energy projects, such as this one, are proving to be successful in providing sustainable and clean energy in Africa.

To achieve an additional 2GW  of electric power generation, the government in Angola is using GE’s TM2500  mobile power plants and containerised balance plant equipment. These systems will bring reliable and efficient energy to the people of Angola.

The rate of development in Ghana has meant that the country has ever-increasing energy needs. To address this challenge, Ghana is deploying fuel-flexible heavy-duty gas turbines that can be used with a variety of available fuels.

There has also been a renewed focus on better maintenance of existing power plants to improve performance with several long-term service agreements signed in Ghana, Tanzania, Angola and South Africa.

Apart from energy solutions in the region, GE has worked hard to ensure these solutions are implemented using local skill sets and that they are sustainable. The multinational is committed to investing in localisation and the capability to drive long-term growth in Africa.

Digital industrial

GE continues to make progress with its African partners in assisting them with capitalising on opportunities presented by digital technologies, which are beginning to permeate the industrial world. The leveraging of new technologies as well as skills in the region will transform the African energy sector into one that will contribute towards sustained development.

With GE’s help, the power industry has the potential to leverage data and turn them into actionable  insights through industrial software platforms such as Predix.

Digital technologies will transform the energy sector by increasing levels of  productivity, lowering operation costs and extending the life of machinery.

Part of the solution for GE is to deploy products and services that will bring reliable and cleaner energy to Africa. Developing reliable power supplies across the continent is a global priority and a critical necessity to ensure Africa can reach its economic and human potential.

PowerGen wasn’t just a showcase of the latest innovations.

It was a drawcard for energy stakeholders to gain insights and knowledge that they can effectively utilise in their respective regions. As a gold sponsor of the event, GE engaged with these stakeholders to assess where they can provide better value in the African energy sector.

Image above: George Njenga, GE Power Regional Executive, Sub-Saharan Africa, during his keynote address at PowerGen 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Credit: Courtesy GE