A technician repairs cables that fell from a pole in a street in Dakar, Senegal

By Issa Sikiti da Silva, Dakar, Senegal

Power outages and load-shedding have become a common currency in many sub-Saharan African countries as they confront the problems of outdated technology and lack of investment and innovation in the energy sector. Power-Gen, a brainchild of the US-based PenWell Corporation, wants the continent to learn from the best and revitalise its energy sector.

Power-Gen, dubbed a global technology for local solutions, is coming to South Africa, where it will host its Conference-Expo from 6-8 November 2012 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

This is a gathering of power industry professionals from Africa and around the world that will enable the sort of dialogue required between actors to take place, event director Nigel Blackaby told Biztechafrica from London.

“It will showcase the very latest technology that can radically transform existing ageing plant and infrastructure in Africa both in fossil fuel power and renewable energy, and introduce modern operations and maintenance techniques,” he added.

Over 80 of the world’s top experts in power engineering are expected to attend this event, the first of its kind in Africa, hosted by the Renewable Energy World.

“They will be bringing technology from all over Europe, China, Korea and Japan, Russia, India and the US,” London-based Blackaby said, urging African countries to bring their engineering challenges to Power-Gen and get the solutions they need.

“All the companies offer a range of solutions aimed at improving efficiency, lowering emissions and the overall costs of power generation.”

Given the mountains of energy challenges the fast-growing continent is facing, including using technologies that date from the colonial era,  Power-Gen Africa is set to draw delegates from all sectors of life, including politicians, IT engineers, administrators; company executives and marketers.

It is believed that the much-publicised biomass energy technology, used by close to 80% of people in West Africa, will be discussed at the conference, alongside many more innovative ways.

South Africa’s Minister of Energy, Elizabeth Dipuo Peters, will open the conference alongside Eskom CEO Brian Dames, the organisers told Biztechafrica, adding that the exhibition floor is now sold out.

Sub-Saharan Africa, which consumes only 2% of the world’s commercial primary energy, generates only 47 MW of electricity, less than 0.6% of the global market, according to a report by the PenWell Corporation.

Electricity supply is no better in Senegal, Angola or the DRC, or in South Africa or Nigeria, Africa’s two leading economies, as rapid urbanisation, decades of mismanagement of underinvestment in energy technology has paved the way for power cuts and load-shedding.

For information, visit www.powergenafrica.com.

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