ISI was back in Cape Town for African Utility Week again this year, where over 300 exhibitors shared the latest technologies and solutions with the nearly 6,500 attendees from 84 countries. The event brought together 77 utilities from 21 African countries with the leading design engineering, construction, OEM, and field services firms working on power and water projects across Africa, who shared project updates and identified opportunities to collaborate.
This year's conference and exhibition highlighted not only the range of product and service solutions available in the power and water sectors, but also the varying needs of the 54 diverse markets in Africa.
While representatives from some countries talked about the need to address the shortfalls in power generation within their countries, for example, other countries seemed to be meeting power generation demand and were more focused on transmission issues such as grid management and rural electrification. One common theme across all countries represented was interest in diversifying their power generation mix. Countries heavily reliant on hydro power are looking for alternative energy sources to balance supply during droughts. Countries with few fossil sources of their own are looking to reduce costs and mitigate irregular supply lines through moving to renewable power solutions, while other countries, particularly along the East coast of Africa, are looking for ways to leverage their new found off-shore gas deposits.
Meanwhile, solutions for good water management were on the mind of all attendees, given the high rates of urbanization in most African countries and especially with the current water crisis so evident in the host city of Cape Town.
Investors appeared generally bullish on African projects in both the water and power sectors, but as always the main point of discussion was around which specific markets to focus on. Some markets, such as Nigeria, which had looked promising just a few years ago, appear to be mired in political inertia when it comes to large-scale infrastructure projects. However, smaller projects, especially in the renewable power sector, do seem to be moving forward. Yet, other markets, such as Zimbabwe, are showing early signs of new potential that was unthinkable until recently.
The main takeaway for U.S. businesses from this year's conference is that there are tremendous opportunities across Africa for all types of product and service companies in the water and power sectors. The key for most companies is to know which markets to focus on and how to build the necessary relationships and network to monitor, pursue and win opportunities in those markets.
ISI Consultants assists U.S. companies to enter or further expand their business in Middle East and African markets. From small projects to longer-term engagements, we put our knowledge and experience to work for you, saving you time and money and minimizing your risk. And our results-oriented approach means we don’t just advise you on what to do to be successful – we work with you to get it done.
As part of our commitment to the U.S. Government's efforts to promote exports, ISI Consultants offer a limited number of COMPLIMENTARY STRATEGY SESSIONS each month to qualified U.S. companies.