Africa’s energy industry is not declining, but it is being disrupted, says GE gas power systems anglophone Africa sales MD Nosizwe Dlengezele.
Addressing media at a briefing, in Johannesburg, on Tuesday, she noted that, ultimately, people who rely on the energy market will find ways to acquire the service without having to be dependent on larger models that create electricity provisions.
“We are seeing self-generation as a big theme, mainly in the renewables space. Smaller rural communities, for example, are finding ways to access electricity to meet their most basic electricity needs,” she said.
She highlighted that one of these ways was in the form of microgrids, with more communities capacitating themselves from a generation and transmission point of view, without being dependent on larger infrastructure projects.
Regarding energy storage, she said that the technological will was there, however, commercial reality remained a challenge.
“We need to ensure that the inclusion of energy storage technologies become bankable and commercial,” she noted, adding that battery storage prices were soaring.
Dlengezele stated that technical and financial losses were major challenges in the electricity space, pointing out that more than half of generated electricity was lost through inefficient transmission distribution systems and networks, electricity theft, and people not paying for electricity.
“What makes infrastructure projects bankable is the ability to collect [revenue].”
Financing was another major challenge in the industry, she said, because the cost of funding electricity projects was high.
“Looking at end-consumers, it is not guaranteed that people are able to afford the [electricity] tariffs, even if it is being generated by a microgrid,” she said.
She added that government frameworks and policies also made it challenging to enable ease in starting electricity projects and to attract investment.
“We operate within structures that need to ensure that people’s investments are protected,” she said.