Sharing Experiences During PFL’s Short-Course Inspires African Power Sector Experts for Future Action
“The most interesting part of the course was the future of the electricity supply industry. We can learn a lot from the different country-experiences about what others are doing in terms of reforming their energy sectors.” – Michael Mwondha, Principal Economist, Competition & Monitoring, Electricity Regulatory Authority, Uganda
On 24-28 October 2022, the Power Futures Lab (PFL), at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB), hosted the short course “Managing Power Sector Reforms and Regulation”. The course was organised with support from the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP), and targets managers and professionals within energy ministries, regulators and utilities.
Important for regulators to understand power sector trends
The five-day hybrid course presented participants with both theoretical and practical tools for dealing with reforms required to ensure African energy markets function in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.
“What stood out for me during the course was the energy transition, understanding where we are, our contribution to zero carbon emissions, the role of climate change and the contribution that the energy sector has to make”, said Prossy Kasigwa, Legal Counsel (Licensing), Electricity Regulatory Authority, Uganda, while sharing her feedback with the AEEP after the course.
Samuel Kizito, Senior Network Planning Engineer, Electricity Regulatory Authority, Uganda, noted that it was eye opening to get an overview of the upcoming trends. “With my engineering background sometimes, I don’t get a chance to look at the other side of the coin”, he added, and said that in the future he will not anymore be making decisions purely on a technical basis.
Nozipho Mthimkhulu, Tariff Analyst, Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA), has recently joined the energy regulator in Eswatini, and said the course gave her and understating of the various challenges Africa, and the world, is facing when it comes to energy.
“It was an opportunity to understand how other economies are transitioning to deal with the current trends including moving away from the vertically integrated models to more open economies that are unbundled, and that has to lead to regulated and unbundled tariffs”, Mthimkhulu added.
Peer-support strengthens basis for decision-making
The course also provided participants with an opportunity to learn from colleagues within the continent:
“What stood out for me, is that our experience is not unique. It has been interesting to see what the other regulators are going through, just hearing the challenges they are experiencing. It is good to know we are not alone, and that there is so much we can learn from each other and even bettering each other by sharing”, said Samuel Kizito.
Kizito mentions lessons shared during the course from wheeling or unbundling the energy sector in Namibia, which can be useful for planning current reforms in Uganda.
The participants recommended the course to all stakeholders of the energy ecosystem.
“I would recommend it to the employees of the regulators, the utilities, but also to the financiers”, said Prossy Kasigwa, and added that it can be especially beneficial for employees of the utilities to know why certain decisions are made by the regulators, which in turn helps with compliance issues.
Similarly, Nozipho Mthimkhulu said the course is relevant for everyone involved in the energy sector and added: “The course covers regulation as a whole and it touches on the key pain points, as well as capacity building and investment constraints”.
In summary, Michael Mwondha, noted that the course is structured in a way that benefits governments and technical people, and enables them, and the utilities to have a similar understanding of issues that require consideration while planning for the future.