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Cape Town, South Africa, 2013/05/07 - “Symbion Power and many other companies from the United States are ready to invest in Africa,” says Paul Hinks, CEO of Symbion Power, a platinum sponsor at the upcoming African Utility Week in Cape Town - African-Utility-Week.com.
“These firms are ethical,” Paul adds,“they have integrity and they need partners in both the public and private sectors. The US government wants to support both the US and the African private sector as this is the route to development on the continent. President [.]’s strategy for Sub Saharan Africa was set out in June 2012 and I am sure that everyone will soon see that he is committed to it.”
African Utility Week is taking place from 14-15 May in Cape Town and some 5000 power and water professionals are expected to attend.
Symbion Power recently acquired the South African power network contractor EJP, which Paul Hinks says was a vote of confidence in Africa: “we wanted a foothold in South Africa and we wanted to strengthen the management of our organization on the Africa continent. EJ Power has good, experienced management who live in Africa. We can’t manage day to day business with a whole day of time difference and between 9,000 and 13,000 kms of distance, depending which of our current operations you measure it against.”
Other interests in Africa
The company already has a good track record in Tanzania says Paul Hinks: “Tanzania is the first country in Africa that we have worked in. Until then we were heavily focused on Iraq and Afghanistan so it has been a pleasure to return to Africa. We now own three power plants in Tanzania generating 217 Megawatts and we have recently signed an agreement with the utility there, TANESCO, to jointly develop a 400MW power plant and a 650km transmission line in the south at Mtwara. This plant will have the potential to provide natural gas fired power to neighboring countries such as Mozambique and Malawi and eventually it can feed the Southern African Power Pool.”
Symbion is also about to enter the Nigerian market since Transcorp Consortium which it is part of, recently won the bid for the acquisition of the 972 mega watts capacity Ughelli Power Plant - one of six power generation companies in that country being privatised.
Paul Hinks describes Nigeria as the most vibrant market in the energy sector in Africa. He adds: “it’s so very, very different than the Nigeria we used to hear about decades ago. I tell everyone who is skeptical to just go there and see what’s happening and not rely on old information, or the words of people who haven’t been in recent years. We will soon open a new office in Lagos that will become the headquarters of our African independent power business. South Africa will be the headquarters for our construction and engineering business but we intend to pursue IPP opportunities in South Africa too.”
Symbiotic partnerships with local companies
According to Paul Hinks a big part of Symbion’s success in the power industry has been creating “symbiotic partnerships with local companies. Not being greedy and trusting and sharing with our local partners. Symbion’s men and women are committed and they are courageous. They are not intimidated by adverse news reports about security issues and we make our own judgments about the risks we will take. Eight years of Iraq and Afghanistan built a very strong team who look out for each other.”
Paul Hinks is also part of the CEO Forum during African Utility Week where he will facilitate the discussions around the financing of power projects.
African Utility Week
For the past 12 years, the African Utility Week conference and exhibition has helped to facilitate discussions around the opportunities in the power sector and has assisted in African utilities providing electricity and water to all of Africa. Co-located is Clean Power Africa, Africa's leading event where major stakeholders from the renewable energy sector get together and explore clean generation as a feasible solution to fulfil Africa’s electricity needs.
The African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa expo is free to attend if visitors register online prior to the event and there are more than 60 free, CPD-accredited technical workshops on the exhibition floor.
African Utility Week dates and location:
Exhibition & Conference: 14-15 May 2013
Pre-conference Workshops: 13 May 2013
Site Visits: 16 May 2013
Location: CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa