PATSON PHIRI, Lusaka
SPOTLIGHT shifts to Zambia in July this year when Zesco hosts the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA) 19th congress that will craft a new thinking on energy management across the continent.
With its headquarters in Ivory Coast, APUA was created for the purpose of promoting development and integration of the African power systems through the interconnection of networks.
The institution also sought to set forth a platform for exchange of experiences and know-how as well as the pooling of energy resources in a win-win approach for all members.
APUA director general Abel Didier Tella said this in Lusaka recently during a joint media briefing with Zesco managing director Victor Mundende.
Mr Tella said among the flagship projects for repositioning of APUA is the creation of the African Network of Centres of Excellence in Electricity (ANCEE) for a mutualised capacity building programme for the benefit of all African power sector personnel.
One of the first qualified Centres of Excellence in Southern Africa is the Kafue Gorge Regional Training Centre.
During the APUA congress, Zambia, through Mr Mundende, will assume presidency of the continental body for the next three years.
Mr Mundende will take over the presidency from Antonio Fernandes Rodrigues Belsa da Costa, chairman of Prodel, the electricity-generating company of Angola.
Mr Mundende is currently the vice president of APUA, which now has a new task of making electricity in Africa reliable and available.
At the extraordinary general meeting in Algiers in December 2012, APUA was tasked to bring together the African power utilities and stakeholders in a bid to make electricity more accessible, affordable and reliable for all African populations.
As part of preparations for the general assembly set for July 12 to 14 this year, Zesco will form committees to spearhead the arrangements ahead of the event that will take place in Livingstone.
APUA works as a development institution relating closely with the African Union and other African specialised institutions regarding power projects on the continent.
As energy resources are not evenly distributed across the continent, APUA has committed itself to coordinate the forum of the African regional power pools in close collaboration with the African Energy Commission and the African Union Commission.
Mr Tella said APUA works to harmonise the master plans of all member power utilities and in the exchange of information and experiences.
â€œThe ultimate objective is to have an African interconnected grid that can enable power flow from north to south, centre to west and east,â€ Mr Tella said.
And Mr Mundende said he was honoured to host the first brief ahead of the 19th congress of APUA.
â€œZesco, which currently holds the APUA vice presidency, will be hosting this event from 12th to 14th July 2017 in Livingstone, the town with one of the worldâ€™s natural marvels. Our delegates will have the opportunity to visit one of over 150 waterfalls housed in our beautiful country, Zambia,â€ Mr Mundende said.
He said hosting the APUA conference confers the presidency on the host utility for a period of three years.
â€œPermit me to right away thank the secretariat of APUA, fully represented here by the director general, Mr Tella, and his entourage. We have worked together over the last three years as a team and shall continue to do so for the next three years, a period sufficient to cement any long and rewarding relationship, as it has also been with the outgoing Angolan utilities from whom we are taking over the presidency,â€ Mr Mundende said.
APUA was founded on December 4, 2012 during an extraordinary general assembly held in Algeria by the African power utility members of the Union of Producers, Transporters and Distributors of Electric Power in Africa (UPDEA) which was created in may 1970.
UPDEA is a privileged partner of the new Partnership for Africaâ€™s Development (NEPAD), the African Union Commission and the African Development Bank.
APUA is also a founder and statutory member of the African Electro Technical Standardisation Commission (AFSEC).
The hosting of the APUA conference will bring to Livingstone, chief executives, managing directors and many distinguished stakeholders of utilities in charge of generation, transmission and distribution of power in Africa to deliberate and chart the way forward on contentious issues in the energy sector.
â€œWe are optimistic that we will attract local and international participants. APUAâ€™s mission is to promote the development of an integrated African electricity sector, with the aim of facilitating the long-term establishment of an African electricity market that gives the peoples of Africa access to affordable and reliable electricity,â€ Mr Mundende said.
The association has 54 active members in Africa and 16 member companies and organisations worldwide that work to bring about industrialisation of the continentâ€™s electricity supply chain.
The 19th congressâ€™ theme is â€˜Promoting emerging economies in Africa through sustainable industrial and energy developmentâ€™.
The theme was crafted at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in April 2015 as part of the journey Zesco embarked on when the company hosted the scientific committee meetings.
The meetings are a launch pad for preparations leading to the hosting of the APUA congress.
The aim of the APUA congress is to discuss and forge the way forward on various aspects of energy infrastructure development in the wake of the many challenges electricity utilities and the energy sector in general across the continent of Africa face.
As a continental and specialised organisation, APUA brings many benefits to its members.
The association gives a platform to its members to have a real-time connection to its information system which includes the data bank of the African power sector, which provides an opportunity to have access in to management information and statistical data relating to the power utilities of all sub-regions of Africa.
This information is useful to improving performances in the framework of bench-marking.
Members use the services of the general secretariat in Abidjan to organise contacts and meetings with one or more development partners on specific projects financing.
They also enjoy the liberties to participate in meetings, workshops or seminars organised by APUA where members may present their projects to development partners and discuss their financing modalities.
The 54 member institutions use the services of the general secretariat to set up joint venture or partnership projects with other member utilities in the framework of specific projects.
There is also the crucial advantage of exporting own expertise or know-how to other member utilities through partnership or consulting contracts.
The power utilities enjoy possibilities to exchange experiences with utilities of all sub-regions of Africa in various fields such as generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, management of customers and human resources, planning and rural electrification, among others.
Electricity firms then use the services of the general secretariat to organise study trips of own staff to other member utilities to learn from them about the avenues to improve corporate performances.
Added to that, they get assistance from other member utilities, should there be any emergency on own power systems which have been common lately.
Member institutions also participate in technical research programmes led by APUA study committees and working groups on projects or topics interesting several member utilities such as network interconnection, power tariff and standardisation of electrical material.
The 54 firms and organisations have benefitted from studies performed by APUA experts or external consulting firms on initiatives of APUA on projects interesting several member utilities or their countries.
Mr Mundende said in his role as vice president of APUA, Zesco has seen increased activity in the area of scientific discourse apart from the many beneficial engagements with other utilities that have now led to Zambia hosting the 19th congress.
â€œI am certain that as we draw closer to the 19th congress, we shall see a build-up of local and international participants hence, I urge each and every one of you to partner with us as we disseminate news of this great event on the APUA calendar. A good exchange of ideas must surely result into firmer engineering and commercial grounding that benefits Africa,â€ Mr Mundende said.
Mr Mundende urged the media to partner with Zesco in the journey towards July and help the company build the hype around the event.
PATSON PHIRI, Lusaka