The Winners – African Power, Energy & Water Industry Awards

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  • Ethiopia’s former State Minister in the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Wondimu Tekle Sigo, Ghana Grid Co, Lilongwe Water Board and several renewable energy generation projects were amongst the winners at the annual African Power, Energy & Water Industry Awards that returned to Cape Town this week, honouring the leading utilities, projects and people in the energy and water industries on the continent. 
  • Their achievements during 2018/2019 were celebrated during the prestigious gala dinner on Wednesday 15 May, and formed part of the African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa conference and exhibition in Cape Town.

The winners and finalists in the respective categories for the African Power, Energy & Water Industry Awards 2019 are:

Category: Lifetime Achievement Award

WINNER: Wondimu Tekle Sigo, Former State Minister, Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Ethiopia

Sigo said he was “grateful for being chosen”. According to the former minister he was fortunate to have been involved in many interesting projects in his career, in both water and energy: “especially the 6,000MW hydropower Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is under construction, on the Blue Nile. This project has already reached almost 60%, so this will help Ethiopia as well as the neighbouring countries through integration.

The former minister continued: “This was one of the big projects that I was leading when I was at the ministry. This award is not just for me, but also for all the colleagues who have worked on so many projects with me, from the time when I was a site manager until I became a minister, and the team work we achieved.”

For seven years, Sigo served as Ethiopia’s Minister of State for the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy. He is well respected for the design and construction of various infrastructure projects, including the expansion of a rural electrification programme for more than 6,000 towns and villages in the region. Furthermore, he tackled water shortages by increasing the water supply of the city around the Dire water reservoir dam from 240,000m³ to 400 000 m³ per day.

Amongst his many achievements, Sigo upgraded eight cities’ electric distribution systems including that of Addis Ababa. ESI Africa included Sigo in their 60 most influential figures in the power sector from East and West Africa. Now as a PhD candidate for Economics at the Peking University in China, Sigo has been conducting research since 2017 around achieving Ethiopia’s economic growth and development.

The other finalists were (in no particular order):

  • Abderrahim Jamrani, Technical Driector, Masen
  • Wim Jonker Klunne, Programme Director, Energy and Environment Partnership, Southern and East Africa (EEP)
  • Dale Robertson, President, Enerscan Engineering

Category: Outstanding Contribution Award: Power

WINNER: Jasandra Nyker, Chief Executive Officer, BioTherm Energy, South Africa

“I am very proud of this achievement” an elated Nyker said on Wednesday evening, “it has been eight years since we started building biotherm energy into a renewable energy investment and development platform. I dedicate this award to my team because it is very much a team effort. We’ve built an amazing business and we have expanded into the rest of Africa. For us this is just a great achievement.”

Nyker is the Chief Executive Officer of BioTherm Energy, who led the business to grow from 4MW in PPAs to over 450MW of secured PPAs. BioTherm has expanded its development activities to build a pan African business by winning projects in Zambia, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Iviore and Ghana, and has also won large scale projects with some of the leading global mining companies.

She has previously managed the direct investment portfolio on behalf of the PCG Clean Energy and Technology Fund as well as Booz Allen Hamilton in London. Nyker holds an MBA from the London Business School, where she was a Merrill Lynch Scholar, and a Business Science degree in Finance from the University of Cape Town. She was nominated as a 2012 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and was part of the Inaugural Global Agenda Council on New Energy Architecture for the World Economic Forum.

The other finalists were:

  • Ricardo Amansure, Community Operations Manager, Umoya
  • Jonathan Amoako-Baah, Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo)
  • Joel Nana Kontchou, Chief Executive Officer, Eneo Cameroon SA

Category: Outstanding Contribution Award: Water

WINNER: Prof. Andras Szöllösi-Nagy, President of the Governing Board of the Sustainable, Development Studies Institute National University of Public Service, Hungary

Unable to be in Cape Town this week. A pre-recorded acceptance speech on video by Prof Szöllösi-Nagy was played to the hundreds of high-level power and water professionals who had gathered at the gala dinner to honour him.

“Africa needs capacity in water resources,” he said. “Although rich in water, it will have major problems to make water use sustainable for generations to come, particularly in the light of climate change. Perhaps there is no other continent that will be so deeply impacted by climate variability and change because as the hydrological cycle is accelerating the probability of having extreme flaws, either floods or drought, will likely increase. And it is now that we have to work together with politicians and policy makers to find out what the appropriate measures are to deal with this danger.” 

Szöllösi-Nagy was instrumental in implementing the establishment of several UNESCO Water Centres across Africa. These centres play a pivotal role in advancing sustainable water management in Africa as well as contributing to capacity development and training activities. They also play a pivotal role in implementing IHP. There are six African UNESCO water centers established to date, including the Regional Center for Training and Water Studies of Arid and Semi-Arid Zones (RCTWS) in Egypt.

The Regional Centre for Shared Aquifer Resources Management (RCSARM) in Libya. The Regional Centre on Groundwater Resources Education, Training and Research in East Africa (RCGRE)in Kenya. The Regional Centre for Integrated River Basin Management (RC-IRBM) located in Nigeria. The Regional Centre on Capacity Development and Research in Water Harvesting (RCWH) in Sudan and the African Regional Centre for Eco hydrology in Ethiopia.

Prof. Szöllösi-Nagy was appointed by the Director General of UNESCO to serve as Rector of the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education. The Institute was an integral part of UNESCO Category 1 Institute. During his tenure he has reformed the Institute where approximately 40% of the graduate students were from Africa. In that period, Africa was a priority of both the research and capacity development activities of the Institute. The African alumni are in lead positions today all over Africa serving various water related organizations.

The other finalists were:

  • Andre Kruger, Head Africa Investment and Integration Desk (AVID), Nepad Business Foundation
  • Alfonso Chikuni, Chief Executive Officer, Lilongwe Water Board
  • Damas Alfred Mashauri, Professor: Civil Engineering, University of Namibia: Engineering & IT

Category: Outstanding Contribution Award: Young Leader

WINNER: Astria Fataki, Energy Generation, Founder and President

After receiving the award a very excited Astria said that: “About ten years ago I fell in love with the energy sector because I realised that energy was a very strong factor and tool for development. But as I was implementing projects I came across a lot of human resources challenges, so I started wondering how we can contribute to the electrification of the continent but with local resources, both technical and human resources.

“So that is how the idea came to first develop the human capital to provide solutions to the challenge of access to energy and also innovative technology that is tailored for Africa.”

Astria Fataki, who is originally from Togo, is an entrepreneur passionate about project development in Africa. Astria truly believes that energy is at the centre of socio-economic development, and fully dedicates herself to tackle this challenge both at the micro and the macro level in Africa.

At a macro level, she coordinated, from 2013 to 2015, the contractual and legal construction of two Public-Private Partnership projects for the construction and operation of photovoltaic solar power plants in Mali (40MW) and Chad (60MW). At the micro level, in 2016, she founded the pan-African organisation Energy Generation, with the objective to develop young Africans’ entrepreneurial initiatives in the energy sector.

Astria holds a Master’s degree in International Public Management from Sciences Po Paris.

  • Lois Gicheru, Solafrique, Founder and CEO
  • Boitumelo Sehlake, Sehlake Energy Solutions, Founder
  • Pule Segale, Rina Consulting Ltd, Civil Engineer (Site Manager)

Category: Power Service Provider of the Year

WINNER: Ghana Grid Company Ltd, Ghana

Daniel Mathe is a Divisional Director at GRIDCo and accepted the award on behalf of the organisation.

Mathe said: “The award means a lot and means that the good work we are doing has been seen and recognised in Africa and we are working very hard to support other countries within Africa. This year we have been able to supply power to Burkina Faso, our neighbours, so it means that the efforts that we are putting in, are being seen in the industry.

“We want to do even better. We also supply power to Togo and Benin and are doing a lot as far as the West Africa Power Pool is concerned,” he added.

GRIDCo operates the Ghana Wholesale Electricity Market and provides electricity transmission services and in Ghana and West African. Since its inception GRIDCo has continuously ensured reliable supply of affordable electricity to households by continuously upgrading and extending the grid and the introduction of modern systems in compliance with IEC 61850. As a result, access to electricity in Ghana has increased from 66.7% (2009) to 82.5% (2016). The increase in electricity access has resulted in increased income, improve trade balance, provided local solutions, contributed to industrial development and creation of new job opportunities.

In West Africa GRIDCo has established inter and intra connections with other West African countries to the North, East and West of its boundaries, as part of the West African Power Pool System and has positioned Ghana as a Net-Exporter within the Sub-region. For instance, GRIDCo currently supplies about a third of the Electricity required for Burkina through its Transmission System. These power exports have brought socio-economic benefits and continues to enhanced energy supply security. Additionally, over the last four (4) years GRIDCo has commercialized its telecommunication assets and now provides the most reliable form of fiber communication for telecommunication services and IT support systems nationwide.

The other finalists were:

  • Umeme Limited
  • Abuja Electricity Distribution Company
  • Energy Utility Corporation Limited – EUCL

Category: Water Service Provider of the Year

WINNER: Lilongwe Water Board, Malawi

The company’s Corporate Planning Manager, Gustav Sikasima, responded as follows after the announcement: “This award means a lot, it means we have been making strides towards the social impact of the people of Lilongwe City and the efforts we have been making to make sure that the City has potable water.”

Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) is a statutory organization created in 1947 by the government of Malawi and mandated by the Water Works Act (Cap 72) to supply water to the residents of Lilongwe. There are about 83,000 metered customers and more than 1000 water Kiosks (communal water selling points) within the City. The total pipe network for LWB is estimated at 1,900 Km.

The Board abstracts raw water from Lilongwe River which originates from Dzalanyama Ranges. The Kamuzu Dam I and Kamuzu Dam II upstream of the intake works act as storage for the dry season during which the flow from Lilongwe River cannot sustain production. These two dams collectively were designed to provide a total storage volume of 24.3 million cubic meters. However, due to sedimentation and the continuous severe drought faced by the country for a decade, this capacity is reducing on an annual basis at a rate of approximately 66,760m3 per year for the past five years.

The company has two main Treatment Plants, TW I and TW II which are situated within the Water Works Campus. The combined capacity of the two plants is 125,000 cubic meters per day.

The other finalists were:

  • Hessequa Municipality
  • Umgeni Water
  • Ontec Systems (Pty) Ltd

Category: Grid-Tied Renewable Energy Project (10MW +)

WINNER: Kathu Solar Thermal Power Plant, South Africa

“What is very unique about this type of project is firstly the clean technology” Siyabonga Mbanjwa, Regional Managing Director Southern Africa for SENER, one of the construction partners in Kathu said on Wednesday evening: “and also that it offers production during peak periods: so we are using molten salts as a storage mechanism and that allows us to continue to produce electricity, even when the sun has set.

“But what is also very exciting about Kathu Solar Park is the manner in which we have worked with the community, we have kept very, very close ties with the community,” Mbanjwa added.

Kathu Solar Park is a 100MW concentrated solar power (CSP) project located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. Construction on the project commenced in May 2016. The solar power park achieved commercial operation in January 2019 and has an operational life of 30 years. Kathu solar project is part of South Africa’s Integrated Resource Program (IRP) 2010, which aims to increase the country’s power generation capacity to 86.8GW by 2030.

It is a parabolic trough plant consisting of a number of solar collector assemblies, including parabolic reflectors (curved mirror), a tracking system, a support structure, and a receiver tube. The storage system reduces the effects of irregular sunlight and enables the plant to produce electricity even during low levels of sunlight. It is also installed with 57 three-phase, cast resin-type transformers rated at 1,500kVA.

It created 500 jobs during the construction phase and 81 permanent jobs during the operational phase. The project is expected to drive the economic revival of the Northern Cape Province and was constructed as an EPC project by SENER and ACCIONA.

The other finalists were:

  • Greenmillenia
  • Jinko Solar

Category:Small-Scale Sustainable Energy Project (under 5MW)

WINNER: Rubagabaga Hydropower Limited, Rwanda

Dan Klinck, MD of East Africa Power/Rubagabaga Hydro Power Limited said after receiving the award: “We’re very pleased with the award, this is very prestigious, and we are thrilled that Rubagabaga came to fruition. It’s been a lot of hard work, we’ve had 1,500 workers on this project, so this award is really for everybody who participated.”

He added: “What’s unique about this project is that it is a public-private-community partnership. It is one thing to build a project that just hooks up the line and adds it to the utility. For us we really focused on what it would do to the community and its productive use equipment, its industrial park, its community library, its agricultural centre of excellence – it wasn’t just power to line up the grid, it was something that really could bring the community together and make a difference and we’re very happy about that.”

Rubagabaga Hydropower Project is a 445 kW grid-connected, run-of-the-river project located in the Northern Province of Rwanda. It has made a very large impact on the local and regional communities by bringing renewable energy, jobs, and improved livelihood to thousands of households. The project is the first hydropower project to implement a containerised turbine and generator in East Africa.

Built almost entirely using simple man-power with little mechanical intervention, this project gives credit to the innovative and resourceful nature of the Rwandan people. In addition to the 455 kW delivered to the national grid, this project has created more than 1,000 jobs over the span of its life thus far.

The ongoing introduction of energy linked directly to innovative, locally-initiated industries creates a dynamic and diverse economy and a sustainably healthy community with the power to impact Rwanda on a national scale. It is the developer’s policy to establish such community-serving projects wherever a successful hydropower plant has been developed.

The other finalists were:

  • BBOX
  • Ecomandate Foundation
  • African Sustainable Energies
  • Eaton Electric South Africa

Industry support
The sponsors of the African Power, Energy & Water Industry Awards 2019 were Eaton, Aberdare Cables, Mazars, SBS Tanks, Standard Bank, ESI Africa, Smart Energy International and Clarion Energy.

African Utility Week and POWERGEN Africa is the flagship energy event organised by Spintelligent, a multi-award-winning Cape Town-based exhibition and conference producer across the continent in the energy, infrastructure, mining, real estate and agriculture sectors.

Author: Annemarie Roodbol

This article was originally published on ESI Africa and is republished with permission with minor editorial changes.


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