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Eric Leger with BMW, Chick shack

Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management, held its epic Xperience Efficiency event for the first time in South Africa at the end of August 2014. 

Lauded as a great success, the two-day energy efficiency-focused event was attended by both international and local delegates, and the 2,500 attendees included industry- and government representatives, academics, partners and customers. 

The event opened with a firm handshake between Schneider Electric’s country president for Southern Africa, Eric Leger, and BMW sales and marketing director, Antonio Antela Martinez, as they announced that Schneider Electric would be BMW’s exclusive partner for the installation of the BMW i Wallbox Pure home charging unit for the car manufacturer’s i3 electronic vehicle in South Africa. 

During the plenary session, Leger highlighted that the South African operation was also focusing on expanding into Africa, and that it had a host of solutions to support the continent’s energy infrastructure plans. Initially targeting southern Africa, the company has already opened an office in Angola, with Zambia and Mozambique to follow. 

Author of “Africa is open for business”, in addition to TV and radio anchor, Victor Kgomoeswana delivered the inspiring and entertaining keynote address. A self-confessed Afro-optimist, Kgomoeswana has a knack for easily interpreting the African landscape for foreign investment, and focused on the opportunities represented by Africa. In particular, he illustrated Rwanda’s rapid rise in the World Bank ease of doing Business Ranking – having now surpassed South Africa. He also highlighted that Africa does not want to be the dumping ground of redundant technology, but is looking for quality innovative solutions that are sustainable. 

The event also offered more than 90 informative sessions delivered by both local and international speakers, focusing on a variety of subjects including smart metering in Africa, solar solutions, industry innovations, sustainable development, partner programmes, and new products and solutions. 

Taking centre stage was Schneider Electric’s “Marketplace”, an efficiently designed exhibition space that showcased all of the organisation’s products and solutions, giving delegates the opportunity to experience these solutions first hand. The organisation added some local flavour by erecting a chic spaza shop – an informal convenience shop business in South Africa – as the heart of the exhibition space, which was used to show how Schneider Electric is aiming to close the region’s energy gap with solutions and channels that service rural people living off the grid. 

Reflecting on the event, organiser and Schneider Electric’s marketing and communications director for South Africa, Ntombi Mhangwani says, “Schneider Electric’s Xperience Efficiency event in Johannesburg successfully mirrored our ‘global specialist in energy management’ brand promise. In particular, the event presented us with the opportunity to showcase to a vast audience the future of energy efficiency as well as demonstrate how it takes real answers and solutions to create a sustainable energy future. 

“In today’s environment, energy has become a concern for all. It is debated and discussed by both industry and citizens alike, and energy conversations are heard in corporate boardrooms, gated estate book clubs and rural community gatherings. Judging from the feedback we have received from partners, customers, and public and private enterprises, our Xperience Efficiency event achieved its goal to serve to highlight, explore and spark an effective energy management strategy within the southern Africa region. It took team effort to achieve this, and Schneider Electric thanks all involved.” 

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