Representatives from more than 45 Indian companies have been in Cape Town for the African Utility Week, with the hope of cracking deals in everything from the supply of galvanised wire to solar inverters and water generators.
Indian Chamber of Commerce director general and CEO Rajeev Singh commented on the sidelines of the event that African countries could benefit from India’s experiences in being the third-largest producer and consumer of power in the world.
He said the Indian power sector was undergoing a significant change that had redefined the outlook for the industry.
India’s Minister of Power had set a target of 1.23-billion units of electricity to be generated in the 2017/18 financial year. The country’s annual growth rate in renewable-energy generation is estimated at 27%, and 18% for conventional energy.
“The Prime Minister has been championing the vision of adding significant capacity in the renewables space, with a goal of adding 175 GW within the next few years,” said Singh.
With a 6% to 7% gross domestic product growth rate in India over the past two decades, the government has had to make significant shifts in energy.
“Two decades back, we had many power outages. We were running on diesel gensets and the industry was losing business. But the industry has transformed.”
He said India had made significant progress with the strong involvement of the private sector, which now contributes 44% of the power generation in the country.
“With the right policies, the private sector can contribute a lot to the power sector and bring technology efficiency.”
Coal-based energy makes up 57% of the installed energy capacity in India, with wind at 10%, hydro at 13.2%, solar at 6% and gas at 7%.
After a backlog, India has finally declared all of its villages connected to the grid. “That was a big achievement. Now we plan to connect each and every household to the grid,” said Singh.
He suggested that Africa strongly focus on renewable energy, particularly in developing solar, wind and biomass.
“In Africa, the per capita consumption of power is one-fifth of the global average. The distribution network needs more strengthening, while 80% of the power is still fossil fuel-based. The 330 GW potential in Africa calls for private sector involvement.”