Energy shapes the future of Africa’s automation and manufacturing industries

January 2023 News

The importance of energy security in shaping South Africa’s economic future is a key focus of the Africa Automation and Technology Fair (AATF), the continent’s most comprehensive and focused automation platform. Taking place between 9 to 11 May 2023 at the Johannesburg Expo Centre (Nasrec), it will co-locate with Future Manufacturing Africa (FMA), a new trade show dedicated to the full manufacturing value chain for the African continent.

Esteemed industry experts have been lined up to present at the dedicated conference, AATF Connect, which will be introduced by Gwede Mantashe from the Department of Energy. They include South African television presenter and moderator, Derek Watts; energy consultant, Chris Yelland; Dilley Naidoo, CEO of Madala & Associates; and Dhevan Pillay, South African Energy Conservation.

Although President Ramaphosa has said Eskom is taking active steps to add new generation capacity to the grid on an urgent basis, a key focus of AATF Connect will be to seek real answers to the many difficult questions being asked about the measures the government has identified to address the energy crisis.

The procurement of new generation capacity

As an immediate measure, Eskom will buy surplus capacity from existing independent power producers (IPPs), mines and other private entities which generate excess power, while 2600 MW of capacity has been procured through Bid Window 5 of the Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), which should add capacity to the grid from early 2024.

Eskom will also look to buy power from neighbouring countries with excess electricity capacity, such as Zambia and Botswana, through the Southern African Power Pool, and aims to construct its first solar and battery storage projects at Komati, Majuba, Lethabo and several other power stations. On paper, the measures for new generation capacity look positive, but there are still many gaps to be filled as to how these processes will roll out on a practical level.

Easing of distributed generation regulations and new legislation

After removing the licensing requirement for generation projects up to 100 MW in June 2021, President Ramaphosa has now announced the complete removal of the licensing requirement for embedded generation, to incentivise further private investment in electricity generation and reduce the lead times to commence construction of projects.

The term ‘embedded generation’ is ambiguous as it is understood differently in different contexts. There are also questions about transitional arrangements for those projects above the 100 MW threshold that are already in motion, and how these will be impacted.

Incentivising investment in rooftop solar through feed-in tariffs

The government has acknowledged the potential for households and businesses to install rooftop solar solutions and to connect this power to the grid. To incentivise greater uptake of rooftop solar, Eskom will develop rules and a pricing structure, known as a ‘feed-in tariff’, for all commercial and residential installations on its network. This means that those who have installed solar panels in their homes or businesses will be able to sell surplus power to Eskom. However, there are some complexities here, as most of these installations occur within municipal distribution systems rather than Eskom’s transmission systems.

Improving the performance of Eskom’s existing power stations

To address the red tape around buying spares and equipment to effect critical repairs at power stations, Eskom’s budget for critical maintenance will be increased over the next 12 months. But, if Eskom relies on emergency procurement procedures (which allows deviation from the mandatory tender requirements to buy spares and equipment on an urgent basis), this could open up the process to abuse, and has the potential to be a vehicle for corruption and looting of this increased budget allocation.

Philip Woods, events director for Business and Technology at RX Africa says: “We understand that delegates at the AATF and FMA are after real, honest discussions and debates about the burning issues that are impacting business today, and the future economic growth of our country and continent. We look forward to bringing together the automation and manufacturing industry’s major players with energy leaders to tackle the major issues affecting progress and transformation, and we are confident that the event will be of great benefit to all involved.”

Registration for both the AATF and FMA is currently open. To register or for more information, please visit

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Moore Process Controls is moving ahead
Moore Process Controls News
Moore Process Controls was established in South Africa in 1985, migrating from a local agent for Moore Products in the USA to a multi-faceted company with a wide range of automation and optimisation capabilities.

BMG’s machine tools on show at Machine Tools Africa
Bearing Man Group t/a BMG News
BMG will be participating at the Machine Tools Africa exhibition. Its stand will showcase the company’s comprehensive range of quality branded tools and equipment, which has been carefully selected by specialists, to meet the exact requirements of customers in diverse sectors.

Enlit Africa reimagines energy security in Africa
The prestigious Enlit Africa 2024 exhibition has the goal of addressing the very real energy security concerns felt by companies across Africa.

From the editor's desk: The digital deluge
Technews Publishing (SA Instrumentation & Control) News
One of the issues arising out of our newfound ability to generate our own electricity is the ability to store it. BESS systems are the order of the day, and we regularly run stories on this new development. ...

Turck Banner welcomes Ivan De Waal as new managing director
Turck Banner Southern Africa News
Turck Banner Southern Africa is pleased to announce the appointment of Ivan De Waal as its new managing director.

University of Pretoria unveils immersive technology laboratory
The University of Pretoria’s faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology is proud to announce the launch of its new Immersive Technology Lab at the Department of Information Science. This cutting-edge facility marks a significant milestone in the university’s journey towards integrating advanced immersive technologies into its curriculum and research initiatives.

IS3 X-Change 2024 conference
X-Change is an annual gathering of tech enthusiasts, industry leaders and visionaries pushing the boundaries of innovation. Join IS3 for an immersive experience that celebrates the latest in technology and fosters networking opportunities, and discover how your organisation can benefit from AVEVA software and the IS3 industry solution partner ecosystem.

Exploring the role of AI in recruitment
In an era defined by rapid technological advancements, the integration of AI is proving to be transformative across various industries. Thankfully, and in contradiction to what many people believe, AI enhances many functions, rather than replacing real people.

Celebrating three decades of innovation in Africa's premier industrial software conference
With a rich 29-year history, the X-Change User Conference stands as Africa's largest and most prestigious annual gathering dedicated to industrial software and related technology. Hosted by Industry Software Solutions & Support (IS3), this year, X-Change 2024 promises to be even more impactful as it celebrates three decades of innovation and collaboration.

4Sight OT Automation achieves prestigious AVEVA Endorsed Partner status
4Sight OT Automation, a leading industrial software solutions provider, has achieved Endorsed Partner status within the AVEVA Partner Network.