To bolster the socioeconomic development of the African energy sector, Africa Energy Indaba (AEI) chairperson Brian Statham says thinking within the sector needs to be expanded.
To achieve this, he notes that the AEI conference and exhibition – which will be held at the Sandton Convention Centre on February 20 and 21 this year – will explore the resilience of the sector, as well as how its different components can interact to create and add value for a sustainable future.
The main focus is to find pragmatic solutions that can be implemented in the African context, with so many people without access to a formal energy supply, living in poverty in harsh climatic conditions and with inadequate infrastructure, Statham explains.
The performance of the national energy sectors across Africa varies; in the north, almost 100% of the population has access to electricity and the focus is on oil and gas, while it is closer to 30% in sub-Saharan Africa where the central regions focus on renewable-energy sources, with coal being more dominant in the south, he adds.
“The diversity in energy sources provides an opportunity, provided that there is a focused exchange of knowledge, experience and technology. The continent needs an interconnection of energy systems in order for this diversity to be fully used.”
For this interconnection to be possible, he tells Engineering News that the AEI pioneered the use of panel discussions and workshop groups to maximise the opportunity for exchanging diverse views and experience.
“The key discussion leaders and delegates all leave the event having been exposed to alternative views on topics under discussion, as well as having had the opportunity to expose their own thinking to critical evaluation by the many experienced and senior attendees from Africa and other countries,” Statham notes.
The AEI owes its success to its focus on Africans working together to deal with African problems in an environment that encourages a knowledge and experience exchange.
Topics for the event are carefully chosen for their relevance to the African energy sector, with speakers invited based on their ability to contribute to finding solutions for Africa, and energy leaders from the public and private sectors across the continent attending the event. “This is unmistakably an African event for Africans,” Statham avers.
The AEI conference and exhibition consist of the main conference, with plenary and breakaway sessions, side events and the business matchmaking portal. Statham says the event provides plenty of opportunity to listen to and engage with topics of interest during the main conference, and attend the side events on oil and gas, women in energy, nuclear energy, independent power producers and power purchase agreements, as well as energy for mobility.
The event also provides an opportunity to learn about a range of energy-related products and services for industrial and rural applications that can assist in delivery of energy across the continent and to have face-to-face meetings with persons of interest through the portal.