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The quality design and manufacture of SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa’s panels and enclosures can be suited to any customer requirement wall mounts. (Image source: SEW-EURODRIVE)

In addition to its quality range of geared motors and related solutions, SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa is ‘closing the loop’ of products by offering customers electrical control panels as part of the package

According to Willem Strydom, business development electronics manager at SEW-EURODRIVE, there has been a strong trend in recent years of companies wanting to deal directly with original equipment suppliers (OEMs). The preference is moving toward a single source of supply to reduce cost and risk, and to simplify the supply chain.

“The market in many industries from mining to agriculture has made it clear that they can no longer afford ‘middlemen’ in the procurement process,” said Strydom. “Companies want to deal with one supplier, preferably a specialised OEM who has a depth of expertise and can stand behind their solutions with the necessary support.”

Responding to these customer needs, SEW-EURODRIVE has been pursuing a strategy of complementing its existing range by steadily adding more value – or closing the loop. Control panels are another vital aspect of most contracts in which the company is involved, so it has actively moved into this space to make it easier for customers.

“There are relatively few OEMs in our field in this region, which gives us the ability to broaden our offering while giving customers high quality solutions and peace of mind,” Strydom commented. “With one of the largest sales forces in the country with on the ground representation across Africa, SEW-EURODRIVE delivers outstanding service levels to support our depth of mechanical and electronic capability.”

Local assembly to boost local economy

The company’s in-house engineering team designs control panels for specific applications where its drive technology is being applied, and even provides the programming required. The local assembly of these units also aligns with many industries’ efforts to support the local economy and secure their supply chains against possible disruption.

“Our customers are looking for the same high quality of ancillary equipment as they receive with all our other products and solutions,” added Strydom. “With our established reputation in the market, customers trust that we will deliver what they need.”

The quality design and manufacture of SEW-EURODRIVE South Africa’s panels and enclosures can be suited to any customer requirement, including floor mounts or wall mounts – and with ingress protection (IP) ratings up to IP65 or whatever the application demands. The panels can also be supplied for containerised solutions such as e-houses, which are increasingly popular around Africa on remote mining sites as well as other industrial applications.

“While our focus in the past has been on our specialised componentry and solutions, our customers have requested our broader involvement in their projects – leading to us entering this important space,” Strydom concluded. “This has further cemented our relationships with customers, through being able to assume responsibility for a wider scope.”

This article was authored by SEW-EURODRIVE. For more information, visit the company website at: www.sew-eurodrive.co.za

African countries will require over US$45bn in the coming eight years to plug the gap in its transmission systems. (Image source: Synergy Consulting)

It is no secret that while the continent has made substantial progress in the energy generation regime, the story of transmission networks remains a tenebrous one

The power procurement programmes that overtook the continent in the last decade completely overlooked the requisite ensuing network that should have been built alongside the generators, and now the consequences are such that African states are increasingly being made to abide is the evacuation conundrum – where there is enough energy to evacuate, but no export infrastructure at all. A testament to the neglect that the transmission sector has been subjected to across the years is the factor that the out of the total energy investments which flew into the continent over the last decade, a meagre 0.5% went to transmission networks (with the rest flowing into the generation projects). No wonder the per capita transmission line infrastructure in Africa (as a whole) is lower than many individual South American countries such as Columbia, Chile, and Brazil.

Africa's widening transmission gap

Transmission woes today have become a classic bottleneck problem for African countries. Grid issues are not only precluding African countries from supplying electricity to their inhabitants but are also leading to huge supply-demand mismatches across the region. Superior grid infrastructure in power surplus regions and abysmal infrastructure in power deficit regions also present insuperable challenges across the continent. Africa, therefore, today stands at a crossroads, where the exigent need of the hour is act.

In order to plug the widening gap in its transmission system, African countries will require over US$45bn in the coming eight years. To put the numbers into perspective, it must be pointed out that over the last decade, Africa received US$41bn in total energy investments. Africa needs a grid system revolution, and such a revolution needs to be much bigger, more efficacious, and exceedingly more intensive than what its power sector has witnessed.

The way forward for Africa, then, shall stem from two major approaches which need to be implemented simultaneously. African countries must: (a) become receptive to private participation in the transmission sector, and (b) initiate the decoupling of the vertically integrated state-owned utilities.

Realising the grid revolution

Classic case studies of how private sector participation changed the whole transmission scenario are evident across South American nations as well as other growing economies such as India. India, for instance, liberalised its transmission regime in 2011 and was able to fetch more than US$11bn (41% of total power investments) in transmission financing. Learnings acquired from Africa’s experience in running power procurement programmes will also prove to be extremely instrumental in allowing for a steep learning curve and guiding the way towards project structure and program implementation. It is only through a robust competitive private participation framework that investment of such gigantic scale can be brought into the system.

Initiating the decoupling of the vertically integrated state-owned utilities will, however, prove to be a more formidable challenge to tackle. Unbundling is a challenging process that can’t be rushed forward. Having worked together for years and having relied on each other’s finances, the three divisions (generation, transmission, and distribution) must be systematically cleaved in order to produce self-sufficient and efficient units. Furthermore, with the added difficulties of bureaucratic red tape, the process can be excruciatingly long. Hence, as a starting point, governments must formulate a very specific policy framework targeting key milestone events. For instance, accounts unbundling, and functional bundling can be considered as the first two significant milestones. While legal and ownership unbundling (which is generally a tediously long process) can follow later, governments must hunker down to prepare a cogent, realizable roadmap to achieve these two processes, which shall yield the highest marginal utility in terms of execution results.

The need of the hour is for African countries to understand that the best time to have initiated a transformative grid system revolution was ten years ago, and the second-best time is now. It is imperative that structural reforms are enacted into the system at a war-level stage to rid Africa of the existing grid paradox and to ensure that its power generation efforts don’t come to a standstill.

This article is authored by Synergy Consulting IFA. For more information, reach out to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For more details Synergy’s services, visit the company website: https://www.synergyconsultingifa.com/

BII commits US$75mn to second Green Basket Bond with Symbiotics Investments to finance small-scale green projects in Africa, South, and South-East Asia. (Image source:

British International Investment (BII), the UK's development finance institution and impact investor, has committed US$75mn to the second Green Basket Bond, arranged by Symbiotics Investments, a leading platform for emerging markets and financial lending

This green lending program aims to increase financing for small-scale green projects across Africa, South, and South-East Asia, with a particular emphasis on India. It will support new MSME lenders not included in the first Green Basket Bond.

Building on the success of the initial Green Basket Bond issued in 2022, this initiative will utilise Symbiotics' global network and BII's 76-year legacy as an impact investor to support an additional 10 to 15 MSME lenders who require smaller investment capital than BII typically provides directly.

These MSME lenders will focus their lending efforts on small businesses that usually struggle to secure funding, especially for green projects. As with the first Green Basket Bond, the funding will be directed toward green projects in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transportation, green buildings, agriculture, forestry, and more.

Samir Abhyankar, managing director and head of financial services, British International Investment, said, “Partnering with Symbiotics on a second green basket bond signifies a continued commitment to empowering smaller financial institutions and supporting sustainable development in climate-vulnerable regions. Channelling capital to where it is most needed, not only supports local businesses and projects but also contributes to global efforts in building resilience against climate change. The expansion of this programme is a testament to the positive impact and success of the initial partnership. We look forward to continuing working with Symbiotics to further efforts to mobilise more private capital into this space.”

Yvan Renaud, CEO of Symbiotics Investments, added, “We are very grateful to British International Investment for partnering with Symbiotics on this second green basket bond. We share the view that financing dedicated MSME lenders and reaching smaller local businesses and projects strongly contributes to the effectiveness of climate finance. We hope that this second green basket bond will have a catalytic effect on the mobilisation of capital for similar projects that play a key role in successfully tackling climate change and its consequences.”

AI-driven energy-sharing platform will be integrated with ABB energy management technology. (Image source: ABB)

ABB, a global leader in electrification and automation technology, and Cleanwatts Digital s.a. have entered into a memorandum of understanding to develop advanced energy management and efficiency solutions for communities and buildings 

Their focus is on creating scalable projects in key European markets, empowering users and property managers to optimise energy use sustainably through intelligent monitoring and control solutions.

The collaboration aims to integrate Cleanwatts' AI-driven energy-sharing platform with ABB's energy management technologies, including the Insite energy management system, energy meters, sensors, and electric vehicle chargers. By leveraging their combined expertise, the companies will deliver unified solutions that streamline renewable generation, storage, and energy-efficient operations.

Community members stand to benefit from reduced energy costs through optimised consumption of self-generated renewable energy, lower electricity connection fees by minimising peak power demands, and enhanced efficiency of renewable equipment such as energy storage systems. The partnership also enables seamless local energy management, asset and load control, demand response incentives, and access to energy trading practices.

“Working together, the companies will provide a joint solution marrying ABB’s energy management technology with Cleanwatts’ AI-driven energy-sharing platforms benefiting communities and their residents in key markets,” remarked Laura Socci, global portfolio manager for Energy Distribution Digital Solutions at ABB. “This landmark partnership offers the most advanced energy management optimisation solutions benefiting energy community managers and investors.” 

“We are dedicated to reshaping communities and industries towards a sustainable and efficient future. This partnership allows us to enhance our software solutions with ABB’s energy management portfolio, creating a seamless integration that will optimise energy consumption and drive sustainability,” said Luisa Matos, CEO of Cleanwatts. “Together, we will shape the future of sustainable energy, revolutionising energy management and leading the way in the energy transition.”

This partnership follows a successful pilot project at the smart community development in Brobyholm near Stockholm, Sweden, where ABB, Cleanwatts, and other partners provided tools for residents to efficiently manage their energy consumption.

ENGIE Energy Access starts mini-grid construction in Zambia. (Image source: ENGIE Energy Access)

ENGIE Energy Access, the leading provider of Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) and mini-grid solutions in Africa, has begun constructing 15 solar mini-grids in Zambia's Eastern Province

This initiative is part of the transformative Increase Access to Electricity and Renewable Energy Production (IAEREP) programme, funded by the 11th European Development Fund and the European Union.

Rural power expansion

By expanding the adoption of off-grid energy solutions in Zambia, ENGIE Energy Access aims to deliver reliable electricity to underserved families and small businesses, fostering economic growth and enhancing socio-economic welfare in local communities.

MySol Grid Zambia, a unit of ENGIE Energy Access, is responsible for constructing, owning, operating, and maintaining these mini-grids. This ensures that residential, commercial, and productive-use customers have access to dependable and renewable power along with value-adding services.

“We are excited to announce this significant milestone, which brings ENGIE Energy Access closer to achieving its goal of operating 60 mini-grids across five provinces in Zambia. This project supports several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 7, by delivering affordable, reliable, and sustainable clean energy to 40,000 people living in rural areas. Our work is an important element of the national electrification plans, and we are committed to collaborating with the authorities to expand energy access and promote sustainable development in Zambia,” said Gillian-Alexandre Huart, CEO of ENGIE Energy Access.

The initial sites in this pioneering project include: Lusinde, Kandongwa, Nyimba Mwana, Chidiwa, Chataika, Kanyanga, Petulo, Kasamba, Chidiwa, Mphole, Mung’omba, Kalambana, Mtore, Kondwelani, Lunga, and Luamphande, with operations scheduled to commence by the end of 2024.

In 2023, MySol Grid Zambia secured a US$7.5mn debt facility from the Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI), managed by Cygnum Capital. This funding will enable the company to construct a total of 60 mini-grids under the IAEREP programme, marking a significant advancement for the mini-grid sector with long-term, non-recourse financing.

ENGIE Energy Access established its presence in Zambia in 2017, currently employing over 250 staff, 650 independent sales agents, and maintaining more than 60 points of presence nationwide. The company has sold over 300,000 solar home system kits and operates one mini-grid in Chitandika.

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