Monday, March 4, 2013

DistribuTECH Africa Conference to Co-Locate with POWER-GEN Africa 2014

PennWell International announced that it has made the strategic decision to co-locate the POWER-GEN Africa and DistribuTECH Africa exhibitions and conferences. The combined event will take place from 17 – 19 March, 2014 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. 

By hosting these events concurrently, these two globally renowned energy event brands will present one end-to-end platform designed to address the needs of Africa’s energy sector throughout the electricity delivery process, from the generation of electricity in the power station, to its efficient distribution and delivery to the end-user/consumer. 
Says Nigel Blackaby, Event Director of  POWER-GEN Africa and DistribuTECH Africa and Director of Conferences at PennWell International,  “The decision to co-locate these events was arrived at after consultation with and feedback from the market. It’s clear that given Africa’s unique challenges and that so many of its utilities are integrated end-to-end energy providers, its stakeholders would be better served by a single event that addresses the entire power generation and delivery chain.”

The effect of hosting these two major global brands under a single roof will offer participating utilities and other stakeholders a much bigger and more comprehensive value proposition. 

Powerhouse Performance Expected from 2014 Event

The POWER-GEN Africa and DistribuTECH Africa conferences will draw together leading global and local experts to discuss, debate and explore solutions to Africa’s energy generation, distribution and delivery environment.  The world’s leading players and participants in the energy sector will converge at the exhibition for three days to facilitate the exchange of ideas, transfer of knowledge and to meet with their prospective African business counterparts.

More than 2100 attendees from 63 countries and six continents attended the inaugural POWER-GEN Africa 2012. The 2014 event is expected to attract larger numbers of the same high-level decision-makers, to explore the theme Solutions for Africa’s Energy Future across the conference’s three Strategic, Technology and Renewable Energy tracks. 

DistribuTECH Africa 2014 with its theme Equipping Utilities for the Future, is likewise expected to draw an audience of local and pan-African leaders, planners, technical experts, suppliers, investors, regulators and policy makers in the electricity Transmission and Distribution (T&D) industry, many of whom will be cross-over delegates from POWER-GEN Africa. 

DistribuTECH is a leading information provider and networking platform for the advancement of the smart grid as an industry enabler. The event has been produced in the United States for 23 years. In January 2013, it attracted a record attendance of nearly 10,000 industry professionals at its event in San Diego, California. Last year, the franchise held its first and hugely successful event outside of the US with the launch of DistribuTECH Brasil. 

Press Conference Panellists on the Industry & DistribuTECH

At a DistribuTECH Africa and POWER-GEN Africa press conference held on Monday, 4 March in Sandton, the media were addressed by a panel comprising: Dr. Willem de Beer, Chair of the DistribuTECH Africa Advisory Board and a recognised leader in the T&D industry, South Africa; Teresa Hansen, Chairwoman of DistribuTECH and Editor in Chief of PennWell’s  POWERGRID International and Electric Light & Power magazines, USA; Nigel Blackaby of PennWell, UK; and Mr. Prince Moyo, GM: Power Delivery Engineering, Eskom, South Africa. 

In the opinion of Dr. de Beer, South Africa’s electricity distribution industry, like others the world over, is under significant pressure to optimise performance and among others absorb substantial tariff increases. This in addition to the problems of aging infrastructure and human resource recruitment and development, which is not adequately addressing the challenges on the ground, are amongst the challenges facing the industry. 

Asked whether he believes the electricity distribution industry in Africa is geared for the 21st Century challenges, he said: “It is important to note that the largest percentage of the current distribution infrastructure was designed and constructed with the 20th century requirements in mind. The challenges facing the distribution industry today are significantly different. Among the requirements today are the need for customer empowerment, enhanced two-way communication, the need to accommodate alternative energy options, higher grid and data security requirements, and so on. One can argue that the current distribution industry is not geared for the 21st century challenges and urgent modernisation of the grid is required.”

Better grid and network planning will be a key topic at DistribuTECH and one that Eskom believes it can share solutions on. 

Says Moyo, “Eskom is proud to be the Host Utility for DistribuTECH Africa in this inaugural edition on the African continent. We will be looking to benefit from knowledge exchange with international engineering companies and product manufacturers, and will also be sharing practices and solutions for key industry challenges such as improved grid and network planning, asset design, operations and maintenance. 

“Eskom is confident that in areas such as high voltage power transmission line design, extra high voltage transmission line operations, long distance transmission and rural electrification we will be able to impart some cutting edge approaches. We will also be looking forward to understanding how to convert strategies in the field of smart grids to practical implementable programs and integrating renewable sources of energy into the grid. Another area of interest will be ultra-high voltage transmission (minimum 800kV HVDC and 1000kVAC). This will be useful as we integrate the grids across the continent. Localisation of production is a high priority in Eskom and the country as we struggle to address our unique socio-economic challenges.”

PennWell’s Hansen adds, “We are very excited about the expansion of the DistribuTECH brand into Latin America, and now Africa. Our mission for DistribuTECH Africa is to work with South Africa and its neighbours in other African countries to produce an exhibition and conference that will inform attendees about solutions on modernising Africa’s electricity grids.”

SA Government to Focus on Investment in Infrastructure

As POWER-GEN Africa and DistribuTECH gears itself to address the issue of what needs to be done to equip utilities for the future, the South Africa government has been making headway on the subject of how to finance that development. 

In his annual Budget Speech on 27 February 2013, the Minister of Finance Mr. Pravin Gordhan said: “The NDP reminds us that “South Africa needs to invest in a strong network of economic infrastructure designed to support the country’s medium and long-term economic and social objectives.

“Over the next three years, R827 billion is planned to be spent by the fiscus and state-owned companies to build infrastructure. The financing for these projects is in place, and is not affected by the spending cuts in the budget.

“The fiscus has allocated just under R430 billion for schools, hospitals, clinics, dams, water and electricity distribution networks, electrification of over a million new homes, sanitation schemes, building more courtrooms and prisons, and improved bus, commuter rail and road links. Most of the spending falls under provinces and municipalities.

“Eskom, Transnet and other State-Owned Companies fund a further R400 billion of projects. This will be financed both through own resources and additional borrowing over the next three years, supported by Treasury guarantees.

“This will pay for the ongoing building of power generation plants and new transmission lines, investment in rail, ports and pipelines, large new water transfer schemes, and various airport upgrades.”

With the budget allocated and the financing in place, South Africa’s decision makers will be well placed to act decisively at POWER-GEN Africa and DistribuTECH Africa 2014. 

For more information about attending the DistribuTECH Africa and POWER-GEN Africa conference and exhibition, or participating as an exhibitor and/or sponsor to reach the event’s high-level decision-making attendees, visit and

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