April 6, 2018

Cross-Sector Experts Will Focus on Affordable Energy in Africa at the IEEE PES-IAS PowerAfrica Conference

Limited access to energy is a major impediment to economic growth in developing nations.  Over 640 million people in Africa lack access to energy with the majority residing in the sub-Saharan African region.  Africa accounts for 13% of the world’s population but only 4% of its energy demand. This problem is exacerbated by long period of political instability, lack of energy-supporting policies, coupled with shortage of financial means and knowledge. However, one thing is certain, Africa doesn’t suffer from a lack of renewable energy sources. The continent’s energy potential consists of 10 TW of solar, 350 GW of hydro-power, 110 GW of wind and 15 GW of geothermal power, yet only a fraction of these resources are in use.

Understanding the core issues in energy accessibility and the lack of a forum in the power and energy sector, the IEEE PES-IAS PowerAfrica conference hopes to be the premier forum to share and connect technical developments in the African power industry. Our mission is to increase participation and engagement by building Africa’s social capacity within the energy and power sector. We want our annual conference to be a vessel for researchers, engineering students, investors and companies to gather, network and discuss critical challenges in affordable and clean energy in Africa. We intend to do this not only through networking but by creating educational platforms to improve power education, and recommending relevant technical standards in the power industry that should be applied and enforced in Africa.

The 3rd annual IEEE PowerAfrica Conference will be held in Cape Town, South Africa from June 26-29, 2018. Our 1st and 2nd conference were held in Zambia and Ghana respectively.

The IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) is the premier sponsor of the conference and boasts over 3000 registrants to its US-held annual General Meetings. Its Transmission & Distribution (T&D) Summit in 2016 attracted over 13, 506 registrants including exhibitors. The Power Africa Conference is a new conference built on the IEEE PES and the Industry Application Society (IAS). It has a goal of growing towards that volume of participation.

Approximately 20% of the attendees in the 2017 Ghana conference were from academia, 10% from NGOs and 30% from government/private sector. Close to 70% were from African countries and 20% from the US, and others from Europe and Asia. Our dedicated volunteers are working to increase this number. While we had over 220 registrants in Ghana, we expect over 350 – 400 participants in South Africa, and are looking to allow non-attendees from NGOs, utility companies and the like to browse through exhibitor booths.

The keynote speakers from the Ghana conference from ECOWAS, IEEE executives, Ghana’s Energy Commission and the IEEE Smart Village president. Additionally, it showcased about 135 technical presentations on micro-grids, energy storage, power protection & control, ICT, transmission & distribution and renewable energy sources. The conference had tutorials on designing business model for energy access, fundamentals of micro-girds operations and critical engineering thinking skills.

Our signature “Women in Power” event was well received by middle-school and high-school aged girls from local schools in Accra. The session promoted representation of women working in the male-dominated STEM fields and connected them with female role models in STEM field position.

IEEE Smart Village, a partner of PowerAfrica, has a strong presence in all of our past conferences. The mission is integrating sustainable electricity, education and entrepreneurial solutions to empower off-grid communities. Each year the organization selects ambassadors with entrepreneurial spirit and strong technical background who are passionate about changing the lack of access to electricity landscape in their communities.  Sharing the same vision for social capacity building and mentoring young engineers, both IEEE PowerAfrica and Smart Village continue to be strong partners in the upcoming 2018 South Africa Conference.  The 2018 IEEE PES-IAS PowerAfrica Cape Town Conference theme is “Powering Africa: Affordable and Clean Emerging Solutions for Sustainable Development”. The conference will cover practical, solution-oriented topics, including case studies and lessons learned in the form of keynotes, plenary sessions, technical presentations and tutorials by worldwide experts on energy and power with focus on Africa.

How you can participate?

We are currently calling all stakeholders who would like to exhibit or sponsor the conference. Please check the sponsor package. Register at our website for more information. And follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

We hope you can join us in Cape Town!

The author, Yemeserach Mekonnen, is a graduate research assistant at Florida International University where she is pursuing her Ph.D. in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She serves as the Publicity Co-Chair for the 2018 IEEE PES-IAS PowerAfrica Conference.

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