The panel discussion at Huawei’s ICT Editors Xchange on 7 June 2023.

THE energy crisis cirrently gripping South Africa should be seen as opportunities for innovation.

Given the continent’s abundant natural resources, which can be harnessed for renewable energy supply, we can find innovative solutions to plug the gap for electricity generation.

This is according to Muhammed Ismail Seedat, Huawei’s Senior Systems Architect, Digital Power Sub-Saharan Africa Region.

He was giving the keynote address at Huawei’s ICT Editors Xchange 2023 on June 7 in Johannesburg.

Themed Energy Resilience: the future of energy reimagined, the gathering brought together a panel of experts in technology, energy, finance and academia.

The annual event was hosted at Huawei’s Innovation Centre in Johannesburg to discuss the issues of energy security and sustainability, and the growth of small businesses and their capacity to create jobs in a challenging operating environment.

Seedat’s remarks came on the heels of the release of the Renewable Energy Grid Survey for 2023, prepared by Eskom, the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) and the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA).

It shows a significant pipeline of 66GW of solar, wind, battery and gas projects in South Africa which, if implemented, could help address the country’s load shedding issues.

During the panel discussion, moderator Jimmy Moyaha engaged participants on what energy security looks like, what solutions are available for the provision of green energy to all South Africans and if these are truly scalable.

The members of the panel spoke about the impact of renewable energy alternatives on the environment, communities, township economies and SMMEs from their respective perspectives and the role that Huawei’s advanced technologies have to play in providing sustainable energy solutions for South Africa and the continent.

Moderator, Jimmy Moyaha with panelists (from left to right); Zubair Suliman, Head of Infrastructure, Investment Director from Norsad Capital, Bridgett Majola, Director Banking & Finance; Head of Project Finance: Energy & Infrastructure from CMS South Africa, Professor Patrick Ebewo, Head of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at TUT and Prinaven Naidoo, Solar Channel Manager, Huawei Digital Power Business Unit.

Dr Patrick Ebowa, Senior Lecturer in Tshwane University of Technology’s (TUT) Department of Management and Entrepreneurship spoke about the importance of making SMMEs part of the entire value chain of the country’s energy solution, and not just the beneficiaries.

Working ‘on the ground’, they are well positioned to be part of the solution for the provision of a reliable and affordable power supply, and should be more empowered to provide local solutions to local challenges, Ebowa said.

Bridgett Majola, Head of Project Finance: Energy & Infrastructure with CMS South Africa commended both public and private financial institutions for the increased focus on making sustainable investments, particularly in the energy space.

“Rhetoric around environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues is becoming more positive and meaningful, allowing for the impact of energy issues to be more measurable,” she said.

On investment, Norsad Capital’s Zubair Suliman, Head of Infrastructure and Investment Director, spoke about the appetite of funders to support the country’s just transition to clean energy projects.

“The current global energy crisis has had at least one positive outcome,” he said, “which is to force the world to address the issue of climate change.”

Prinaven Naidoo, Solar Channel Manager, Huawei Digital Power Business Unit outlined Huawei’s capacity to design and roll out sustainable energy solutions for commerce, industry and in the residential sector.

“Digital power is the fastest growing business unit within Huawei, representing 60% growth, and the company is the largest manufacturer of inverters in the world,” he said.

Huawei not only has the innovative technology to create PV plants and storage solutions, but also has a number of ICT skills and training programmes including ‘A Thousand Digital Power Talents’ which trains installers.

Huawei’s role as the leading provider of digital energy solutions makes the company a significant player in the quest to ensure Africa’s energy sovereignty and security.

Huawei has developed technology that functions even on a weak power grid and is part of the acceleration of clean energy development.

“In a complex environment, Huawei is providing simple, straightforward solutions to the continent’s and indeed the world’s energy crisis,” said Seedat during his opening address.

The panelists encouraged all stakeholders, including business, government and academia to explore the opportunities the current energy crisis has provided, and to find new and innovative ways of working.

These digital energy solutions will leapfrog the continent into the future, with solutions that meet ESG goals and that have a positive impact on communities, cities, and entire countries.