* To attract chief executive officers (CEOs) and technocrats from power utilities across Africa
* It presents an opportunity for Malawian businesses targeting Africa continent as a potential market
* APUA has undergone some transformations by becoming an association which provides value for its members
By Duncan Mlanjira
Electricity Generation Company (Malawi) Limited (EGENCO) is set to host the all-important annual meetings of the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA) — which brings together power and energy players from Africa and other continents to deliberate on matters affecting the energy sector.
EGENCO’s publicist, Moses Gwaza said this is the first time EGENCO is hosting the APUA meetings and are highly anticipating to share notes with colleagues in the industry from across Africa.
“We will review progress made in the industry for the past year and also plan and review the plans for the year ahead,” he said. “It’s about having efficient and excellent delivery of service to our people in across Africa.”
He further said the meetings — to be held at Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Lilongwe — will attract chief executive officers (CEOs) and technocrats from power utilities across Africa; and “presents an opportunity for Malawian businesses targeting Africa continent as a potential market”.
A media kit for the event says APUA, formerly designated as the Union of Power Producers and Distributors in Africa (UPDEA), was established in 1970 with its headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Under its current name of APUA, “the entity has undergone some transformations by becoming an association which provides value for its members”.
“One of the mainstays of the transformation of APUA is the plan to establish an African Network of Centers of Excellence in Electricity — with the support of the French Development Cooperation Agency (AFD) and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
“The 2023 annual meetings will be the first annual meetings under the term of office of SENELEC (Senegal) as current chair of APUA (2022-2025) following the memorable Dakar 50 years anniversary Congress held in July 2022.
“The purpose of the meetings is to take stock of the activities carried out over the one-year period; to discuss the status of scientific activities, projects and reforms implemented and projected in the sector.”
It is also to promote the activities of member companies, develop South-South cooperation in order to encourage the emergence of a local African industry of electrical equipment and services to give impetus to the development of the sector.
A special focus will be on the strategic leadership and governance of the power sector. Power utilities as major player should take the lead and its managers (the utility CEOs) will have an open exchange with APUA main sponsor; the African Development Bank vice-presidency on energy, electricity, green growth & climate on the right transition for African and determine quick win projects to launch to this end.
EGENCO further says the meetings will bring together, among others, active, affiliate and associate members, CEOs, directors-general, general administrators, African power utilities, major players in the electric energy sector and African electricity companies.
The participants in this category will include financial backers such as the African Development Bank as main sponsor, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the World Bank, high-level officials, African electric and renewable energy operators, manufacturers and suppliers of electrical equipment and materials, experts, consultants, and consultancies.
On Monday, Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe recognised EGENCO as topping the list of best performing state-owned enterprises in the trading sector alongside Lilongwe Water Board and Airport Development Limited.
This follows, among others, the company’s success to restore power generation which was lost at Kapichira Power Station due to Cyclone-Ana-induced floods in January 2022.
Just last month, when Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola attended the 9th edition of the Mozambique Mining & Energy Conference (MMEC) in Maputo he also made special acknowledgment of EGENCO’s achievement for bringing back the generation at Kapichira — saying it demonstrated that many solutions can be found locally rather than relying solely on external expertise.
After over a year, EGENCO first restored 64.4 MW from the two machines out of four that Kachipira started generating on April 5. The four machines at Kapichira generate 129.4MW, which was all lost when its dam and other infrastructure got washed away in January last year through the floods.
Then EGENCO proceeded to bring back their third machine on April 12 to jump to 346MW before rolling out the fourth to gain all 129.6MW to the national grid as of May 9th and Gwaza said: “We believe that we the 4th and final machine now back online, the country will continue to enjoy good electricity.”
Restoration efforts were rolled out immediately that included redesigning a storm-resilient infrastructure as long term solution and constructing a primary cofferdam to re-divert Shire River water back to the intake to restore power generation.
Minister Matola — who was amongst high level delegations from Malawi, Angola, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe — told the delegates that African countries need to place more trust in their own engineers when addressing issues faced within the energy sector.
He highlighted during a round table discussion that it is time to encourage regional integration while also focusing on developing solutions from within — thus Matola appealing amongst the delegates for greater sharing of skills and ideas between African nations so as to create effective policies which benefit both national and regional levels.
He had said: “Such collaborative efforts are necessary since common problems cannot be resolved independently without proper cooperation among African countries.”
In his remarks, the host — Mozambique’s Minister of Mineral Resources & Energy, Carlos J. Zacarias — concurred with Matola, saying the regional integration is a key towards solving energy challenges that the Southern African region is facing — giving an example of the Malawi-Mozambique interconnector project as one way how countries in the region can work together.