African Utility Week: a bright continent

African Utility Week is the leading conference and trade exhibition for African power, energy and water professionals

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This three-day trade exhibition and conference gathers experts from across some of the largest companies and organisations specialising in power, energy and water. This year will be the 19th edition of this singular must-attend event for the power, energy and water utility professionals in Africa as the conference features the most sought-after African and international speakers and the hottest strategic and technical topics.

Some of those topics include identifying successful areas within the different sectors and highlighting the challenges that those sectors are facing in Africa. Attendees are at liberty to choose from a wide variety on the long list of presentations, seminars, briefings, discussions and facilitated networking opportunities, which can equip them with up-to-date information in their respective fields.

The conference gathers the hottest decision-makers and ‘real-world doers’ who share their expertise and give tips on the best practices for effective power and water supply. 2019 will bring a staggering 10 000 visitors to Cape Town from across 81 countries. Amongst that will be 77 utilities and municipalities and over 350 exhibitions. There will be 1 200 conference attendees, three co-located events, six conference tracks, 21 hours of networking, 570 000 business connections, 130+ hours of content and five knowledge hubs.

The reason why so many organisations attend is due to the nature of the platform, which serves to educate, thus enabling them to make informed purchasing decisions. The high level of insight provided increases their return on investment because they receive detailed product knowledge and refined details on the latest industry innovations from Africa’s leading power, energy and water exhibitors. There are many on-site special offers and people are able to network with new suppliers, shaping new business ideas and inspiring new opportunities. Attending these free technical workshops will help to increase knowledge through meet and greets with international delegations. Individual business owners and their teams can experience first-hand practical project-led solutions and take advantage of them.

There is a strong and diverse group of experts who will be speaking at the conference, diverse in nationality, age, gender, race and profession:

Bhavtik Vallabhjee is the Head of Power, Utilities and Infrastructure at Absa Bank Africa, with 22 years of corporate and merchant banking experience in South Africa and the Middle East. He has been engaged in structuring major project finance transactions in sectors such as power, water, O&G, telecoms, transportation, healthcare and industrial projects. He has worked on several deals in the Middle East and a number of African countries and has been involved in executing transactions with an aggregate value in excess of US$23 billion in his career. Vallabhjee spent five years in the Middle East at the height of its infrastructure spending boom where he was a Project Finance Banker. After returning to South Africa in 2010, he specifically focused on power. He is currently the Head of Power, Utilities and Infrastructure at Absa in Africa. He is a United-Kingdom qualified Chartered Management Accountant, has an MBA in Finance, two Honors degrees and a Bachelor's degree in Accounting and Finance.

Bobbi Harris is the Vice President of Africa Utilities Technology Council (AUTC) United States. She is a smart water and smart city industry expert with more than 15 years of experience. In her years as a global strategic marketing professional, she has focused on environmental issues and sustainability technologies to address water and energy challenges including smart water infrastructure, smart grid, clean-tech and green building initiatives. Harris is also the founder and CEO of Smart Water, Smart City, LLC and a leader in market analysis, strategic intelligence and technology assessments. She graduated summa cum laude from Campbell University and has also earned her MBA from the same institution.

Chinedu Igbokwe has more than 10 years' experience in storage solutions and solar power. At Daystar Power, Igbokwe manages its pan-African operations providing leadership for the sales, supply chain, engineering, projects and service organisations. In his previous roles, Igbokwe was responsible for leading technical teams across Africa to develop complex storage and solar power solutions. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a Master’s in Engineering Management from Northwestern University.

Dr Hlamulo Makelane is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Department of Chemistry. She holds a PhD in Chemistry with a strong focus on polluted wastewater from the University of the Western Cape. Dr Makelane’s research interest focuses on the development of a highly selective and sensitive dendritic polymer electrochemical sensor for polluted wastewater, as well as science, technology and innovation analysing in order to evaluate the role it has on addressing environmental challenges and informing policy.

Jason Mingo has followed his passion for water management, following his postgraduate degree in both Environmental Science and Freshwater Ecology. As a Task Manager for the Western Cape Government, Mingo is involved across different levels of policy development, project planning and implementation in terms of innovative and sustainable practices for water management at a provincial level. From the rehabilitation of river systems to the inclusion of fit-for-purpose water-sensitive design solutions for resource conservation, Jason’s work has a central focus on collaboration and working across disciplines.

Kudakwashe Mzembe is passionate about Africa and sustainable development. He is the co-founder and Projects Developer of Advanced Power Technologies, a company that focuses on solar energy, power contracting and technology. He is an entrepreneur at heart and firmly believes that business should be sustainable and must exist to impact society. His roles include the execution of the business's marketing strategy, building strategic partnerships and exploring new market opportunities. Mzembe is also actively involved in various non-profit ventures. He is a Mandela Washington Fellow and is committed to being an active part of providing African solutions for Africa's challenges.

Penny Herbst has over 30 years of experience in a utility environment, mainly from Eskom’s Treasury Department, where she was exposed to a diverse set of financial, commercial and legal structures that emanate from its operations. Among others, she has managed Eskom’s foreign and interest rate risk, money and capital market investments, project finance transactions and the structuring of projects to mitigate risks associated with projects in Africa. She led the formation of Eskom’s Development Finance unit, her role being the Development Financing Manager. She was instrumental in raising in excess of US$6 billion from DFI and related institutions. This included funding for Eskom‘s first renewable projects where she spent some time in Eskom’s Renewable Unit working on bridging the gap between financing and implementation. African Utility Week embraces sharing knowledge and capacity building and was established with the intention of offering support and paving the way for growth and development in the power, energy and water sectors.

It’s the quintessential conference for anyone seeking investment, sourcing for new technology or looking to reduce technical and non-technical losses. The objectives of the keynote plenary sessions, the six core breakaway tracks and co-located events were created and structured in a way that enables people to connect with experts in the various sectors. Attending the conference will secure the opportunity to meet experts in the industry who can provide answers on how to better run specific organisations. 

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Issue 83


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