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Success in life largely depends on how you handle your failures
African Proverb

Welcome to a new decade where we can emerge from the blur of a tough 2019 and set out a bright vision for the year ahead. I have chosen to emphasise this rather fitting African proverb in this preface as success and failure are two words that every person on this planet can relate to. At a time where we are overwhelmed with noise and disruptions, its essential to have an optimistic outlook to persevere to achieve our goals. Take a moment and think about how these words resonate with you. You may have just celebrated the triumphs of having walked through this path; or maybe, you are still stuck at the first juncture of failure and are finding difficulty to emerge and push on. Wherever you find yourself, you are on a journey to achieving success. The people and projects within this edition of the African Power & Energy Elites are on board this Grand Tour with you, having pushed boundaries and taken risks at implementing an idea that is transforming the industry on our continent.

We are living in a time where socioeconomic, political and bureaucratic battles, can make us feel like we’re on a rollercoaster that doesn’t have any brakes. The effects of climate change on the natural mechanisms of the environment are having a disastrous impact on the world around us, which is naturally hampering the way economies operate and trade across all sectors and sub sectors. The power sector, in particular, is at a cross road; servicing the needs of its customers in a sustainable, affordable and environmentally-friendly way while still ensuring the security of its bottom line.

Some economists believe we are entering a ‘Peak Decade’, which will disrupt business and investment across all sectors. At this year’s World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Bloomberg described the hottest themes to include: Peak Globalisation; Peak Capitalism; Peak Inequality; Peak Youth; Peak Climate Change; Peak Oil Demand; Peak Cars; and Peak Central Banks—you may ask how this is of any relevance to power sector, and this journal? Interestingly, all of these ‘peak’ topics are in some shape or form – directly and indirectly – connected to the modern power and energy network. How they are prioritised and tackled is up to leaders – like you – that find themselves in a position to make dramatic changes. This annual publication highlights how Africa’s optimism and eagerness to develop and grow is testament to how strong leadership can navigate, with clarity and purpose, through the tumultuous waters of uncertainty, hidden political agendas, social conformity and the mounds of red tape that many find themselves entwined in.

Nominated by industry peers, you will read within these pages how some of Africa’s influential people are placing their heads above the parapet and motivating teams to make a difference: This may be writing new legislature to attract investment; designing funding models that appeal to smaller markets who are in need, and deserving of, energy access; creating innovative platforms for the buying and selling of power; bringing innovation to the local automotive industry such as e-vehicles. Those who personally invest in a team selflessly enable others to reap the biggest reward: energy access. The team efforts shine bright within the project case studies that you will find on pages 46 to 93. From Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) p.70, floating solar (p.60), to rural electrification projects such as the Boki Project in Niger (p.84), each project offers their own unique take to bringing energy access to all.

The influx of nominations received called for the attention from a diverse independent panel of experts who could review each person and project within their own field and scope. This year’s Advisory Board (p. 96) were harsh but fair with their final feedback; giving merit where it was duly deserved. The African Power & Energy Elites team would like to thank each of you for your effort and dedication to this project; without your commitment and willingness to this unique publication. On this note, I would like to personally thank my coproducer, Natalie Bacon, our project partners (p.100) and the core team who have played a pivotal role in ensuring this edition is of a high standard – we would not have been able to produce the 2020 edition without you.

I have learned a lot in the past year regarding team work and the rewards it can produce when you are willing to pull together and leverage each other’s strengths and weaknesses – embracing the failures, big or small – but never giving up on persistence and determination, which will almost always see you win the race. Coming back to the African Proverb: Success in life largely depends on how you handle your failures. It is my wish for each of you to recognise success when it is warranted, take the time to enjoy the moment and reflect on the journey with your team.

May 2020 be your best one yet!

Ashley Theron-Ord
African Power & Energy Elites | Editor