Organisers of the 2015 Africa Energy Indaba expect more than 2 000 visitors to attend the conference, a 20% increase compared with the attendance figures of last year’s event, which, in turn, registered a year-on-year increase in attendance of 23% from 2013 to 2014.
This year’s indaba will take place at the Sandton Convention Centre from February 17 to 18.
Siyenza Management MD Liz Hart tells Engineering News that 2015 will mark the first year that the indaba will host a ministerial ‘trilemma’ meeting, in partnership with its strategic partner global energy forum the World Energy Council. She adds that Energy Ministers from eight African countries have confirmed their attendance for this year’s event.
World Energy Council secretary general Christoph Frei, who will speak at the indaba, says South Africa’s current power crisis highlights the country’s struggle to come to terms with the triple challenge when providing sustainable energy.
The World Energy Council dubs this the ‘energy trilemma’, which takes into account carbon emissions, the cost of energy and supply security, says Frei, adding that energy price volatility and climate framework uncertainty are at the top of the global energy agenda for 2015.
He adds that African energy leaders also need to discuss the implications of low oil prices on gas developments and on the diversity of the continent’s energy mix.
Frei says the time has never been more critical to ensure that smart strategies and robust policies are in place to deal with the ‘new normal’ – high energy price volatility.
“The Africa Energy Indaba is a strategic energy industry event aimed at decision-makers,” Hart says, adding that Siyenza Management’s goal is to ensure that it prioritises the attendance of industry professionals.
She says that, as the indaba develops, more strategic side events are added, which has resulted in the number of speakers also increasing. The number of speakers for this year’s event has almost doubled since last year.
Side events running concurrently with the indaba include the invitation-only Indaba Energy Leaders Dialogue, which will focus on gas; an Independent Power Producer and Power Purchase Agreement conference; the inaugural Women in Energy Conference; an Energy Efficiency Workshop; as well as the World Energy Council Resilient Energy Infrastructure workshop.
“Given the prominence of the Africa Energy Indaba as a key decision-making energy event, we were approached by industry to provide a platform for strategic stakeholder engagement with the guidance of a steering committee. “We are selective in our approach and in our partnerships, which ensures that the standard of the event is maintained and that we offer the best to all participants,” Hart adds.
Steering committee chairperson Brian Statham says the indaba is a forum where those with valuable resources of knowledge and experience worldwide can constructively engage with Africans who have a passion for power generation and the aspiration to improve the lives of hundreds of their fellow Africans.
Hart says the indaba also showcases various interactive workshops to provide insight into education and training, as well as new and alternative technologies that can help the consumer and energy-related businesses to become more energy and power sufficient.
“We believe that consumers and businesses are exploring alternative power sources, owing to the power crisis that is impacting on many South African businesses, as well as businesses in neighbouring countries,” she comments.
The workshops will include product knowledge and demonstrations of solar power systems, energy efficient technologies and business integration systems, which aim to assist homes and businesses in reducing energy costs.
South Africa’s Electricity Crisis
Hart says the professional delegates attending this year’s indaba will provide an opportunity for South Africa’s energy industry to discuss the key issues facing the sector.
“South Africa’s government officials and business leaders are being provided with the ideal chance to engage in key issues with energy leaders with a sense of urgency as they grapple with the challenges and spin-offs caused by the nation’s power crisis.”
Hart stresses that, without energy, Africa’s economies cannot grow. “Energy is needed – for life, for education, for healthcare and for development.”
She adds that there is currently a big window of opportunity for investment in Africa’s energy sector, which necessitates that leaders act urgently and decisively. “The indaba is driven to ensure that these time- sensitive opportunities are given a platform.”
Hart suggests that industry should pursue cost-effective and reliable alternative energy solutions. The indaba exhibition, running concurrently with the conference, offers delegates a platform to network with service providers, suppliers and energy experts, as well as an opportunity to view products that can support their businesses and industries during load-shedding, which has become a national crisis for local businesses.
Meanwhile, prior to the indaba opening its doors, the Business Matchmaking Programme will be available to all registered delegates. This feature enables participants, speakers and exhibitors to load their profiles onto a database. Participants will then be able to start requesting meetings with one another through this bilateral meeting environment.
“The success of this programme has been phenomenal, with big business deals having been established. In addition, dialogues have taken place between key stakeholders to find resolutions to regional challenges as well as the challenges of cross-border trade,” says Hart.
Energy Sector Development
The 2015 Africa Energy Indaba has a strong focus on renewable energy and sustainability, which indirectly dovetails with conservation, says Hart.
With this is mind, two sessions held on February 17 and 18 are specifically focused on the preservation of the environment – Into the Future: Energy Efficiency Technologies and Implementation, and Renewable Energy and Low-Carbon Energy Development in Africa: Challenges, Opportunities and the Way Forward.
Hart adds that, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the scientific and observable evidence of climate change is unequivocal, but she says “climate change mitigation measures have been slow and sparse”.
Numerous conservation organisations will attend the indaba, including Birdlife South Africa and Greenpeace.