Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, the West African Power Industry Convention (WAPIC) has played a key role in connecting industry leaders from utilities, governments and independent power players; with solution providers from the public and private sectors. The conference, hosted in Nigeria this year, has also been held in Ghana and Senegal. WAPIC has grown over the years and now hosts 90 exhibitors, offers technical workshops, site visits and pre-conference sessions.
Every year, the convention becomes bigger and enjoys support from key stakeholders, such as the Federal Ministry of Power, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, the Transmission Company of Nigeria and Abuja, Eko and Ikeja distribution companies. To ensure that an event of this magnitude is logistically flawless, planning starts a year before the programme takes place.
“The production cycle of a typical power conference is about a year,” says Christa Robijn, WAPIC programme director. “We spend an incredible amount of time to research topics to ensure the conference programme is relevant and up to date, offering the latest insights from key experts. I also travel to Nigeria on site visits for interviews and stakeholder relations and consult on an advisory board made up of a spectrum of different power experts.
“Negotiation with the venue starts a year before the actual event, as well as liaison with stand builders and operations. The success of the events is made possible by a dedicated team of marketing, operations, sales and customer service departments. The key focus is nurturing relationships with speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, suppliers and service providers.”
WAPIC serves as a platform for key power stakeholders and industry to gather and discuss the challenges being faced. It facilitates the conversation between government, utilities, developers, financiers, consultants and service providers with the main objective to find solutions that will ensure stable and reliable power supply.
Robijn says that WAPIC was held in Nigeria this year because the country is dynamic, in that it has recently gone through a power reform and privatisation is nearly complete.
“The new owners of the discos [distribution companies] and gencos [generation companies] are in place and it is an exciting time, considering the amount of investment that has been pushed into the power sector,” she says. “Nigeria is set to be an example to neighbouring countries on how to transition from government-run utilities to the private sector.”
The conference programme has been designed to cater for all levels of industry players. Attendees range from government officials, utility managers, developers, and legal advisors among others. For attendees, a convention like WAPIC offers the opportunity to gain valuable insight into key market developments. Those registered can customise attendance by including a pre-conference workshop or an on-site visit. Delegates can save months of leg work by being in an environment where they can talk to hundreds of experts in just two days. Without a doubt, the networking opportunities and relationships that are developed at WAPIC can establish longstanding local and international partnerships.
“My hope is that delegates will take away new, in-depth knowledge to share with their teams and colleagues; that it will make a difference in how they operate their utility or company, and make decisions and influence the future of the power sector,” says Robijn.
The conference is sponsored by major global brands, including Siemens, an indication that Africa holds an indomitable position as an investment destination.
“There has been a definite increase in investment from both the private and public sector across Africa,” says Robijn. “Programmes such as the Power Africa Initiative have increased the confidence of investors in the region and the development of the power sector will have a significant impact on the economy. Many international companies see the value of entering the Nigerian market, seeing that the sector has been privatised.”
The keynote at WAPIC will be delivered by Professor Chinedu Nebo, Nigeria’s Minister of Power. A number of top-level government representatives including the Chair of the Presidential Power Task Force, Reynolds Dagogo-Jack, will be participating at this year’s WAPIC.
“We are excited to be offering a pre-conference workshop around strategic management within a changing utility environment,” says Robijn. “This is for anyone who is involved in change management within their business and needs to be able to strategically plan around changes in the work environment.
“We also offer a two-day metering, billing/CRM track where we will review revenue protection, pre-payment metering and customer advocacy issues. Following the metering programme, there is a two-day site visit to ECG (Electricity Company of Ghana) to learn more about their loss reduction programmes.”
Moving forward, WAPIC is moving strength from strength and looks to build on the convention’s previous successes.
“WAPIC has grown year on year and we continue to plan to grow the exhibition of the conference,” says Robijn. “We have taken the strategic decision to host WAPIC in Nigeria for the next couple of years and we are looking forward to building on our relationships with stakeholders.”