Africa’s power sector is undergoing radical transformation, and innovation will be key to survival and meeting future demands, delegates heard at the opening of POWER-GEN Africa and DistribuTECH Africa in Cape Town yesterday morning.

The three-day African power generation and distribution conference and expo – POWER-GEN Africa and DistribuTECH Africa – got underway at the Cape Town International Convention Centre with over a thousand power sector stakeholders from across Africa and abroad meeting to discuss African power challenges, opportunities, investment and technologies.

Nigel Blackaby POWER-GEN Africa Event Director & Conference Director for event organiser PennWell’s International Power Group, said, “Meeting the continent’s power demands is now more important than ever before. With an investment of around US$450bn needed in Africa’s power infrastructure to reduce power outages and reach the 600 million sub-Saharan Africans who do not have access to electricity, collaboration and integration are going to be crucial.”

Over the course of 3 days,POWER-GEN Africaand co-locatedDistribuTECH Africa2015 featured:

• 40+ conference sessions as part of a multi-track conference programme
• 145+ eminent international speakers from around the world
• Hot topic presentations and panel discussions
• Guided technical tours
• 100+ leading exhibitors from the region and world-wide showcasing their latest technologies
• Informative training workshops

POWER-GEN Africaand co-located DistribuTECH Africatargets those who work in:

• Utility and private power sectors
• Engineering
• Commercial personnel from the equipment manufacturing and consulting fields.
• Professionals from utilities and energy intensive industries with responsibility for ensuring power supply
• Officials and ministers from the national and regional political spheres who are tasked with energy policy

Sub-Saharan Africa focus 

POWER-GEN Africa focuses on Sub-Sahara Africa, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara Desert, comprising a total of 48 countries with a combined population of 800 million. Power consumption, at 124 kilowatt hours per capita per year and falling, is only a tenth of that found elsewhere in the developing world, barely enough to power one 100-watt light bulb per person for three hours a day.

According to the International Monetary Fund, “The strong growth trends of recent years in the sub-Saharan Africa region are expected to continue. The region’s economy is forecast to continue growing at a fast clip, expanding by about 5 percent in 2014, the same level as in 2013, and accelerating to around 5¾ percent in 2015, underpinned by continued public investment in infrastructure, buoyant services sectors, and strong agricultural production”

POWER-GEN Africa explored issues relating to channeling spending towards infrastructure investment and other development needs, safeguarding social safety nets to encourage more inclusive growth, and improving the business climate.