11 June 2018

Africa: Rise of Smart Power in Africa Transforms Energy Sector

Johannesburg — EXPERTS believe Africa has the potential to revolutionise the energy sector through smart power innovation.

Within developing economies, including Africa, there are growing opportunities to implement new technologies and localised energy generation systems, that could lead to innovation that will change how the world generates, stores and distributes power.

Kieran Whyte, Head of the Energy, Mining and Infrastructure Practice at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, said in Africa, new systems and networks can be designed around future environmental stressors and energy demands without having to take into account the limitations of old infrastructure.

"Africa therefore has an opportunity to lead the way in smart power innovation. Considering that Africa currently has insufficient generation and transmission capacity, encouraging smart power solutions is crucial," Whyte said.

Baker McKenzie helps clients overcome the challenges of competing in the global economy.

Marc Fèvre , Partner at Baker McKenzie in London, noted the combination of the rise of cost-effective renewable energy, the decentralisation of energy production, and improvements in energy storage, smart metering and other digital technology all had potential to revolutionise the way power is generated and consumed.

Africa is seen as having a role to play in innovating these smart power solutions.

Fèvre said energy industry incumbents around the world, including in Africa, were reshaping their businesses to seize the opportunities and to meet challenges coming with with increasing use of smart power.

Opportunities in smart power include energy storage; smart cities and buildings and data monetisation.

"All of these are blurring the lines between utilities and technology companies," Fevre said.

He said with the advanced use of mobile technology in Africa and lack of existing electricity transmission networks, these developments provided an opportunity for communities in Africa to access power by leapfrogging traditional models of generation and transmission.

Whyte noted the energy sector investment in Africa had already begun to focus on implementing innovative solutions to changing demands and environments.

"Governments in Africa must now follow suit by adapting their legal and regulatory frameworks to encourage and protect this innovation in the power sector," Whyte added.


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