This year’s Africa Energy Indaba will provide light-emitting-diode (LED) technology provider Grandstage Trading with opportunities to explore how it will achieve its objectives through the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which will be a significant topic at the event.
The company’s long-term goal is to electrify rural and marginalised African communities to promote economic development, and to provide its energy efficient lighting solutions to these communities, says Grandstage Trading CEO Christine Masaiti.
“Grandstage aims to capitalise on regional integration pertaining to energy as a means of improving efficiency in using resources. Access to electricity is fundamental to development and a key driver for sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth,” she enthuses.
She states that the topic of the AfCFTA at the Indaba will provide many opportunities to explore how to mitigate this lack of access, as the objective of the agreement is to realise one continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business, persons and investments.
The trade agreement will allow Grandstage Trading to distribute its products more freely on the continent and will allow access to business in new markets. Transaction costs, including the removal of tariffs on exports and imports, will be reduced through improved trade and energy integration that allows for market and economic collaboration.
This will, consequently, improve efficiency, enhance competition and incentivise the development of strategic economies of scale.
In addition, the AfCFTA will allow for access to new technology for renewable-energy generation, transmission and smart grids, as well as opportunities to attract investors for expansion.
Masaiti confirms that Grandstage’s exhibition stand at the event will focus on these benefits of the AfCFTA.
The company will also focus on energy-generation technology at the Indaba, with discussions focusing on smart grids, also known as bi-directional energy information infrastructure, energy efficiency and the impact of AfCFTA on energy trade and integration.
The company’s corporate social responsibility initiative –Lighting Up Africa, One Child at a Time – will also be presented at the Indaba. The company aims for its LED solar-powered lamps to be used by children from marginalised communities, particularly to ensure convenient studying.
“We are expecting to attract potential investors and to interact with the authorities that can make decisions in mitigating some of these challenges to the benefit of all involved parties.”
Meanwhile, Masaiti argues that consumer knowledge of LED is still lacking, which results in slow adoption of the company’s solutions. Despite having become more affordable, she argues that more could be done to make LED solutions even more affordable.
“An important part of the discussions, that could be beneficial to the Indaba, is encouraging the public to use LED lighting technology. This can be achieved by creating more awareness in communities by alerting them to the benefits of these LED lighting solutions.”
Similarly, solar technology is still unaffordable to many, despite it being the most available energy source. Solar technology, however, requires significant subsidies and Grandstage is hindered from bringing such lighting solutions to households, as funding remains unavailable.
“Discussions around promoting solar energy by subsidising the cost of solar home systems would be beneficial to independent power producers (IPPs) and consumers,” she stresses.
Further, South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), published in October last year, supports a diverse energy mix and sets out policy decisions to ensure local energy supply security.
Masaiti notes that this electricity infrastructure development plan is based on the least-cost electricity supply and demand balance, with additional considerations being security of energy supply and environmental impact by minimising emissions and negligent use of water.
“LED and solar solutions play a huge role in cushioning the energy mix, considering that the IRP provides for the procurement of only an additional 1 860 MW of nuclear power by 2024.”
She maintains that policy changes in the licensing of IPPs should be implemented to allow for more power to be generated without restrictions, as the current restrictions limit participation by IPPs in contributing to energy production.