• Power play

    Alternative forms of energy have a crucial role to play in improving the lives of people throughout the continent, says Mholi Majola, CEO of electrical supplies and engineering company ContiPower.

    Power play

    The energy future revolution in Africa has created a rather fiercely competitive market in the sector. Multinationals are encouraged, as are new start-ups, by the open-arm manner that governments are adopting towards taking a long-term approach to solving their nations’ electrification problems.

    This also underscores the efforts by organisations such as the African Development Bank, Africa Progress Panel and AU in highlighting just how crucial it is for the continent to be lit, which ultimately will spiral out and motivate productivity across all sectors of business and manufacturing. Growth for the continent cannot be achieved – nor can individual development and upliftment – without power.

    ‘Energy has become one of the most important aspects of a state’s economic development,’ says Mholi Majola, CEO of ContiPower. ‘As such, the market for energy and related products follows the economic trends, ultimately aimed at improving the quality of living for millions of Africans.

    ‘Africa is exciting in this sector – albeit, however, challenging to penetrate. Traditional distribution of electricity and energy has proven expensive and time consuming, which is why the focus is directed at fit-for-purpose power generation and distribution systems.

    ‘Innovations include harnessing renewable energy such as solar and wind, decentralising the generation of electricity, and breakthroughs in smart/mini-grid systems that have the ability to supply power to small communities without dependence on grid infrastructure.

    ‘This is the key to unlocking Africa’s potential and creating a snowball of development,’ says Majola.

    It is also the key that unlocked the development of ContiPower, established in 2006 to become a leading supplier of high-voltage electrical supplies within the sector, rivalling local and international industry players – local being South Africa, ‘where we have relished a significant market share in the supply and installation of power transformers’.

    Over the past two years, ContiPower has diversified its range of services, which also includes engineering and other bespoke solutions, to position itself as an ‘African leader in energy’. In so doing, it has introduced renewable energy and cogeneration projects and solutions, transmission line and substation construction, the supply of high-voltage electrical products and equipment, low-voltage switchboards and motor control centres.

    From a transformer perspective it also provides onsite services such as supervision on installation and commissioning, minor repairs, evaluations and execution of modifications, and oil treatments.

    ContiPower’s renewable energy offerings, aside from solar (independent power producer and rooftop), also includes the provision of waste-to-energy and cogeneration solutions, all supported by a strong team that complies with ISO 50001.

    ‘We see alternative energy solutions as a major part of the future of Africa’s energy mix,’ says Majola. ‘These technologies are flexible and will be best rolled-out and valued where grid infrastructure is not present, while having the flexibility to offer grid support on decentralised systems.’

    This is especially pertinent to the development of communities, and is a valued part of the ethos of ContiPower, whose strong footprint proves how extensively it embraces localisation, not just for the growth of the region, but also to create value for its shareholders.

    Its South African model has set the path for ContiPower’s growth in Africa. By taking a keen interest in understanding market dynamics, ‘particularly legislative framework and client requirements, ContiPower is enabled to dynamically and speedily adapt to changes and provide customer support through the product/solution ownership cycle’, according to Majola. ‘Simultaneously we ensure that our strong technology partnerships are translated into our products.’ This has given the company the ability, over the past decade, to compete with international competitors, and allowed it to explore expansion into sub-Saharan Africa – more specifically Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Mauritius, Uganda and Tanzania.

    The key is to ensure that the business remains sustainable, and ContiPower has proven its ability to do this in South Africa, even through some tough economic times. Majola believes, however, that South Africa is nearing the end of a downward cycle and has a promising future.

    Outside of specific power generation, the industries that ContiPower has penetrated include construction, civil, piping, mechanical, electrical, hydrostatic, off- and onshore oil rigs, marine, transport and logistics, packaging and preservation, and petrochemical.

    Across all aspects of ContiPower’s business, customers have indicated satisfaction levels of 92% or more with regard to customer satisfaction, continuous improvements, growth, integrity, innovation and customer relationships, with 100% in terms of the high-quality supply of products and services. These figures have been substantiated by key internal measurements.

    Despite such positives, Majola says ContiPower is not complacent. ‘We continue to develop solid and reliable products that meet our customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. We draw on our strengths to ensure we maximise all opportunities and minimise risks, and we apply this approach on behalf of our clients as well.’

    By Kerry Dimmer