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We are what our thinking makes us

– Nigerian Proverb

The word resilience – the capacity to recover quickly from difficult situations – stands strong and tall in my mind when I reflect on the African power and energy sector. Being resilient involves how we condition our thinking to take a multifaceted approach to cope with and manage stressful situations.

Resilient is a perfectly apt way to describe the attitude of Africa’s visionary leaders and visionary project teams, not only over the past year’s unforeseen challenges but also how the continent has endured many hardships, always seeking out the opportunities that lie beneath the struggles. Regardless of there being a global pandemic or natural disaster – the obstacles and hurdles that the sector faces in Africa are real and in many instances, unique.

It is a privilege when industry leaders share their intimate memories and deeply personal motivators during these leadership interviews. Having some insight into someone’s personal life can offer you comfort and affirm that everyone is on a journey, even if we are all at different junctures, with different destinations. The decisions that you make along the way are often made with the morals and values engrained from childhood, lessons-learned from others or your own mistakes and the collective skill-set you have developed over your career together with the diversity of your team.

We recognise twelve inspiring individuals who, each in their own unique way, tell their story of how they came to be a leader. Read these exclusive interviews from p. 14 in the publication or online.

The story and ethos of our Lead Partner, Conlog, is rich in culture, resilience, determination and above all, a shared belief in developing African solutions for Africa – which are made in Africa. You can read their story of success on p. 9 in the publication or online.

This year we have a number of inspiring projects on show, projects driven by visionary innovators. One, in particular, is John Magiro, a young Kenyan entrepreneur who built a micro-hydropower plant in the Gondo river, using items including a dynamo and bicycle wheel rim. He has developed this startup into a growing business which is now electrifying 680 households and small businesses within its 30km mini-grid (p. 74 in the publication or online). The benefits of solar and the effectiveness of mini-grids continue to shine bright on our continent. Right before the COVID-19 pandemic ran riot across the continent, the Mokoloki solar mini-grid in Nigeria came online, with the first three months of operation avoiding an estimated 15,000kg of CO2 emissions (p. 76 in the publication or online). For a country heavily reliant on diesel generators, seeing projects such as this and the Havenhill Synergy and Rural Electrification Agency’s Nigerian collaboration (p. 80 in the publication or online) reaffirms that our industry is committed to ensuring that all Africans have access to clean and affordable power. This is not only hugely beneficial to their well-being but to that of the environment as well.

Having been given a glimpse behind the curtain of efforts made to keep the lights on during the pandemic, you should all feel proud of what you have achieved.

It is this attitude and commitment that we want to cherish and recognise in this Elites programme for years to come. Let’s recognise the phenomenal work that our teams have put into transitioning to a ‘new normal’ – 2020 has validated that change is the only constant around us.

This recognition is extended to this year’s Advisory Board. A heartfelt thank you for generously giving up your time to vet each nomination, giving strategic advice and valuable insight into each leader and project received. Your commitment to this project, and to the success of this sector, is highly appreciated.

When you peel back the layers of complexity that have masked simple truths, the reasons why we have chosen our respective paths, you regain the balance and drive of rediscovering exactly where you need to go. For many reading this, it is to electrify each and every household on the African continent in ways that are affordable and sustainable.

As we look to a new year, celebrate past triumphs and look ahead to the future with a mindset rich in optimism, fresh outlooks … and resilience.

Please, share your story with us, and inspire others on their journey to success.

Best Wishes,

Ashley Theron-Ord

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