Share this article

​African Utility Weeks starts today, with much food for thought on the table, and opportunity to find solutions to power and water challenges.
HEADS will spin at the deluge of information covering all aspects of metering, water, infrastructure investment and waste management on offer at the African Utility Week conference, running at the Nasrec Expo Centre from today to 24 May.

Energy minister Dipuo PetersEnergy minister Dipuo PetersAfrican Utility Week is the continent’s biggest event for utilities and large industrial end users; it is in its 12th year and features about 300 exhibitors and 5 000 experts in their respective fields. The opening session on 22 May will feature Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters, and chief executive officer of Eskom, Brian Dames.

“I am honoured again to be invited to participate in this important gathering,” says Peters. “We have consistently, and will continue to, raise the need for the utilities sector to deepen engagement and debate on the collective challenges that confront all of us in this space.”

There will be break-away sessions focusing on eight themes: metering, renewables, water, large industry, investment, transmission and distribution and smart grids, generation, and waste management.

Sessions forming part of metering will look in particular at smart metering and grids, balancing electricity tariffs and technology with the economic climate in South Africa and user-friendly interfaces to allow for real-time billing access.

Smart metering
Coming under the microscope on the second day of the metering breakaway conference will be smart metering, with specific focus on Eskom’s load management project and how leveraging technology will allow for the evolution of smart metering capabilities. Representatives will come from all over South Africa, as well as Ghana and Nigeria and even further afield from Dubai and India.

WaterWater supply will be discussedRenewables sessions will feature experts from Namibia, Zimbabwe, Gambia and Germany, who will focus on policy mechanisms governing renewable energy, distribution challenges across the continent and global trends of a green economy.

Water will form a major component of African Utility Week, with two sessions running concurrently on each day of the conference. The first session, on 22 May, will examine the supply of potable water in rural and urban areas; running simultaneously will be the session looking at the funding of water projects.

Thereafter, a session focusing on innovative solutions for the management of non-revenue and unaccounted for water will run alongside a session looking at water as a commodity and managing public perceptions of it.

Technological developments, strategic planning of water resources, case studies on water management and a panel discussion on private public partnerships and the African water vision for 2015 will wrap-up the second day of the water conference.

Carbon tax
Visitors interested in learning more about large power users can attend these breakaway sessions, where electricity prices, carbon tax and financial opportunities for large users will be some of the topics under discussion.

Investment sessions will examine the continent’s power infrastructure needs, as well as participants’ perspectives on the investment climate. Alternatives to traditional project finance and a discussion of the best way forward will round up the proceedings on the second day.

The City's landfill gas to energy project will come under the spotlightThe City's landfill gas to energy project will come under the spotlightSmart grids and transmission and distribution breakaway sessions will look at the most effective way of harnessing smart technology and the smart grid in Africa. It will get participants looking at how it has been done in other countries and will provide lessons for developments in India and the United States.

Participants in the generation sessions of African Utility Week will learn more about industry trends and competitive power generation, the differences between coal, gas and nuclear power and power generation in a carbon-conscious world.

Waste management will focus on building a culture that makes waste management every citizen’s responsibility, and at best practice, looking at examples such as Johannesburg’s waste management strategy at large events – particularly the 2010 football World Cup – and waste to energy projects.

Energy efficiency
Site visits for each theme have been arranged for 24 May to provide context to what has been discussed in the sessions. For instance, participants in the large power users and renewables sessions will visit the Coca-Cola bottling plant, Johannesburg Zoo and Absa Towers West to learn about reducing carbon footprints, adopting energy efficient lighting and constructing to reduce the consumption of energy, water and materials, among others.

Other site visits will include the Soweto infrastructure upgrade and rehabilitation project as part of the water sessions and the Pikitup landfill gas to energy project, which falls under the waste management theme.

Free workshops falling under each theme will also be hosted on each day of the conference. The conference will be hosted at South Africa’s largest exhibition, convention and events venue, the Nasrec Expo Centre, which is located on the corner of Rand Show and Nasrec Roads, in southwestern Joburg.

For more information on the conference, exhibition and activities scheduled for African Utility Week, visit the website.

Related stories:

Power issues at utility expo
Successful energy show for Jozi
Power drives development
City Power gets smart