Brian Molefe to open the Africa Utility Week CREDIT: Timothy Bernard
Cape Town - Africa Utilities Week may sound a little dry, like an event with only sector-specific appeal, but not this week's event and expo in Cape Town with its scheduled opening by Eskom CEO-turned MP-turned-Eskom CEO Brian Molefe on Tuesday, as well as focuses on water and nuclear energy. 

Molefe's scheduled appearance at the 17th annual African Utility Week conference and expo, which runs from May 16-18, will be one of his first public appearances since the Eskom board announced late last week that he was returning to his job as chief executive. His reappointment at the top of the state-owned utility has been the subject of public outrage and a court application by the Democratic Alliance on Monday. 

Another rather explosive subject for South Africans is the future of country's energy supply, which Dr Anthonie Cilliers, programme manager for nuclear engineering at North West University, is expected to tell a session at the Utilities Week should be based on nuclear.

"I believe nuclear energy is being misrepresented by many parties because it does not fit personal interest," he has said. "Nuclear power is on record the safest energy source of all. It is clean and provides the most stable form of electricity available today. 

"Unfortunately it has large capital costs attached to it making it difficult for private investors to have an appetite for it. When deployed it will, however, provide all our energy needs taking away private investors' opportunity to make money." 

Furthermore, the organisers of Africa Utilities Week said in a statement on Monday, "an exciting announcement" by Eskom's chief nuclear officer, Dave Nicholls, is expected on Thursday May 18. There should also be plenty of interest in sessions at African Utility Week on that other burning issue around the office … um … water cooler: the increasingly urgent debate about how to ensure a water resilient future. The event always has a strong focus on water and this year will be no different as 7 000 decision-makers from more than 80 countries gather to discuss the latest problems and solutions. 

The conference programme, which includes presentations from more than 300 expert speakers, will address the latest challenges, developments and opportunities in the power and water sectors, ranging from generation and transmission and distribution to metering and technology. 

New at the conference this year, Energy Revolution Africa will explore the transitioning energy landscape in Africa, where green innovations and disruptive technologies allow for the quick roll-out of integrated microgrid energy solutions. With a focus on sub-10MW projects, Energy Revolution Africa aims to provide a unique platform for solution providers to meet with the new energy purchasers: metros and municipalities, IPPs, rural electrification project developers and large power users, including mines, commercial property developers and industrial manufacturers. 

AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY