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Cape Town – Just do it! (or live in the dark forever) might have been the theme of the first panel session on the opening day at the Africa Utility Week in Cape Town on Tuesday, with an array of experts urging delegates to focus on “getting deals across the finish line”.

Andrew Herscowitz, co-ordinator for Power Africa, a US Government initiative, gave a no-nonsense American perspective when he said: “Just get deals across the finish line, they don’t have to be perfect.” He told a packed auditorium at the conference that brings together a wide selection of role players in the power and water sectors to “keep running as fast as you can” even if it meant “you will make some mistakes”.

The alternative, he said, was to keep “keep living in the dark forever”. More than 7,000 decision-makers from 80 countries are attending the three-day conference that will look at the latest developments, challenges and opportunities in the power and water sectors. James Stewart, global head of major projects, power and utilities, for KPMG UK, suggested that one way to get things moving was to make deals simpler.

“That way you start to build a track record,” he told the panel. Their fellow panellist, Lazarus Angbazo, who is chief executive of General Electric’s Sub-Saharan Africa Energy Connections Business, agreed, adding: “Everybody should put more skin in the game.”

He said Africa had the resources and the market, and there was “tremendous opportunity for African governments and businesses to be more innovative and creative”. And he delivered a little warning: “If we don’t deliver it somebody else will find a way.”

In the light of of Angbazo’s earlier comment – “Most elections in Africa today are a referendum on the availability of power” – all stakeholders should take heed, “put more skin in the game”, “keep running as fast as you can” and “start to build a track record”. Most importantly, according to at least one panel of experts, they should focus on “getting deals across the finish line”.

– African News Agency (ANA)