A dynamic South African leader in renewable energy, a former influential Ethiopian government minister, the Ghana Grid Company and a range of renewable energy projects were among the winners at the annual African Power, Energy & Water Industry Awards announced in Cape Town this week.
The prestigious awards ceremony honours the leading utilities, projects and people in the water and energy industries on the continent and forms part of the African Utility Week and PowerGEN Africa conference and exhibition.
BioTherm Energy CEO Jasandra Nyker won the Outstanding Contribution Award: Power. The South African businesswoman has grown BioTherm Energy from having 4 MW of secured power purchase agreements (PPAs) to more than 450 MW of secured PPAs.
“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,” said Nyker.
BioTherm Energy has built a Pan-African business by winning projects in Zambia, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Iviore and Ghana, and has also secured large-scale projects with some of the leading global mining companies.
Meanwhile, the Kathu Solar Thermal Power Plant, a 100 MW concentrated solar power project based in the Northern Cape, won the Grid-Tied Renewable Energy Project of larger than 10 MW.
“What is very unique about this type of project is firstly the clean technology," said Siyabonga Mbanjwa, Southern African MD for SENER, one of the construction partners on the project. “It also offers production during peak periods. We are using molten salts as a storage mechanism and that allows us to continue to produce electricity even when the sun has set,” he said during the awards evening. He said he was also very proud of the close ties developed with the community.
Further, the Lifetime Achievement Award was won by Wondimu Tekle Sigo, former State Minister in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, who served in the position for seven years. 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.
Among his many achievements, he upgraded the electric distribution systems of eight cities, including Addis Ababa. The former minister said he was fortunate to have been involved in many interesting projects in his career, in both water and energy “especially the 6 000 MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam hydropower project, which is under construction on the Blue Nile”.
The Ghana Grid Company, GRIDCo, which operates the Ghana Wholesale Electricity Market, was honoured as the Power Service Provider of the Year. Access to electricity in Ghana increased from 66.7% in 2009 to 82.5% in 2016. Ghana has also positioned itself as a net exporter within the region. GRIDCo divisional director Daniel Mathe said the award meant a lot.
“It means that the good work we are doing has been seen and recognised in Africa. This year, we have been able to supply power to Burkina Faso, our neighbour. 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.”
The Lilongwe Water Board, in Malawi, scooped the award for Water Service Provider of the Year. The board supplies water to the residents of Lilongwe. There are about 83 000 metered customers and more than 1 000 water kiosks (communal water selling points) within the capital city.
Rubagabaga Hydropower Limited in Rwanda won the Small-Scale Sustainable Energy Project award, while entrepreneur Astria Fataki, who hails from Togo, won the Outstanding Contribution Award: Young Leader. She has coordinated the development of solar power plants in Mali and Chad and founded the Pan-African organisation, Energy Generation, to develop the entrepreneurial initiatives of young Africans in the energy sector.