African Utility Week’s growth and success a reflection of confidence in continent’s energy and water sectors
“Everyone who was part of this year’s African Utility Week felt the same passion for the energy and water sectors on the continent and had the feeling that we are on the brink of enormous progress“, says Evan Schiff, event director of the African Utility Week conference and exhibition that took place in Cape Town and gathered a record 6445 attendees from 17-19 May.
“Technology, water and renewable energy were strong themes this year,” Schiff adds “and there’s no doubt that renewable energy as well as smart technology are changing the way power and water utilities operate and deal with their customers.”
There are big plans in the offing for next year: “as the industry evolves, so will the event” says the African Utility Week event director, “our exhibition will be even bigger next year as we grow into the new expo space at the CTICC to reflect the new markets and developments in the sector, including a focus on non-utility scale projects, large power users, rooftop solar installations, energy storage, lighting products, independent power producers (IPPs) and EPCs (engineering, procurement and construction).”
The event featured 250 exhibitors from 40 countries, 299 speakers who addressed the packed strategic conference over three days in six different topic streams while inspiring industry pioneers engaged the audiences in the daily high-profile keynote sessions. African Utility Week addressed the latest challenges, developments and opportunities in the power and water sectors: ranging from generation, transmission & distribution, metering, clean energy, finance and investment, water supply and energy efficiency.
“The energy revolution is powering up”
A notable presence at the CTICC in Cape Town this year was Sierra Leone’s Dr Kandeh Yumkella, UN Under-Secretary-General and Former Special Representative of the Secretary-General and CEO, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), who not only made a lasting impression during the opening day’s keynote session but also won the Lifetime Achievement category at the African Utility Week Industry Awards. On receiving his award Dr Yumkella said: “I know the energy revolution is powering up and ready to take off. We saw again this week that we have the technology and the innovation. Sometimes we are too suspicious of each other, we should embrace energy trade with each other”.
Other award winners included Johannesburg’s City Power (Utility of the Year), Uganda’s National Water and Sewerage Company (Water Utility of the Year), and Akon Lighting (Clean Energy Project of the Year) reflecting the enormous pan-African progress in the energy and water sectors.
The sold-out exhibition also featured country pavilions from Germany, India, The Netherlands, France, South Africa and China. There were dozens of packed, free-to-attend CPD-accredited technical workshops on the expo floor, product demonstrations and technical site visits. Attendees at African Utility Week came from more than 81 countries, including 27 African nations, and 79 power and water utilities were represented.
Annual industry platform
An important part of this year’s growth at the event were the many side events from the industry that have turned African Utility Week into an annual industry platform in the Mother City. These included the Oil & Gas Council’s Cape Town Assembly, KPMG’s IPP Conference, Nuclear Power Africa, the Standard Transfer Specification Association’s AGM, PIESA and International Cleantech Network gatherings. South Africa’s Department of Energy also launched its new energy efficiency label that will become mandatory for household appliances with Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson revealing the new label at African Utility Week.
African Utility Week is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. The event forms part of a global energy event series, including European Utility Week, Australian Utility Week, Asian Utility Week and Latin American Utility Week. Other African flagship events in Spintelligent’s power portfolio are East African Power Industry Convention (EAPIC), West African Power Industry Convention (WAPIC), iPAD Rwanda Power & Mining Investment Forum and iPAD Cameroon Energy & Infrastructure Forum.