Cooling towers of a power plant in Secunda in South Africa. © 123RF
Cooling towers of a power plant in Secunda in South Africa. © 123RF

Good procurement vital to African power sector

9 February 2016

Best practice in procurement will be vital to ensuring Africa’s power sector is sustainable, according to a group of stakeholders in the industry.

Academics, experts and executives from the sub Saharan power sector said that procurement practices had to be carefully assessed to ensure new project plans in the industry were viable.

Economic development across Africa is depending on a “healthy and sustainable” power sector, they agreed.

The stakeholders, comprising the advisory board of POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa – a week long conference on the sector in South Africa taking place in July – met to review papers submitted to the conference and identify the most significant challenges facing the power generation and distribution sectors.

They said that utilities companies alone were not responsible for power sector challenges and financial management, deal structuring and skills shortages at a local government level had to be addressed to ensure that projects are completed effectively.

In addition, the advisory board agreed that more high-level technical resources were needed to address the challenges posed by the continent’s ageing power infrastructure.

“[The power generation industry] is facing issues such as how to fund projects and how to ensure they have the best suppliers on board,” said Willem de Beer, chairman of the advisory board.

“Another major concern facing everyone we have spoken to is how to manage ageing assets and how to overlay new infrastructure on these assets.”

Nelisiwe Magubane, chairman at Matleng Energy Solutions and former director-general of South Africa’s Department of Energy, added that while the introduction of independent power producers had helped to refine and streamline rules and processes, there is still room for improvement.

“There is a need to ensure effective governance in procurement processes, to avoid costly project derailments,” she added.

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