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End-to-end IT infrastructure can help the West African energy industry navigate deregulation and drive transparency and growth.

Utility providers in Africa currently operate in tumultuous environments characterized by many influences & industry issues such as regulatory change, security of energy supply and an ageing asset base to a more informed and demanding customer base, environmental and technological challenges. To stay relevant these companies need to become more agile, inventive, efficient and attentive to customer requirements.

Many West African nations have turned toward the deregulation of their energy industries in an attempt to address rising demand for power. In Ghana alone, demand is expected to grow by 10 to 15 percent every year, while Nigeria’s population of 150 million requires far more than the 4000MW it currently generates and this across a large geographical space.

On the face of it, deregulation is a positive step, opening the market to the efficiencies of the free market as well as ensuring distributed responsibility for both generation and distribution which reduces the risk of a single provider. The outcome of the deregulation should be the increase in supply to better meet demand, & the renewal of ageing infrastructure in order to drive the economy in its current growth and re-invigoration.

However, care needs to be taken in any deregulated market. Asset handover and operational setup, a clear regulatory & pricing framework to work against and getting operations up and running (from basic HR, asset inventories/maintenance through to customer identification, meter reading and billing) are now top of the agenda. Making decisions from where to prioritize spending to managing day to day operations in a well-informed and strategic manner requires a robust strategy and the relevant IT systems. Such systems should not only meet current but also future needs and be flexible enough to adapt as they become more sophisticated or business models are adapted.

There is a broad set of solutions required to successfully meet all requirements, from core ERP systems covering basic demands such as HR, financials, consolidation, supply chain and billing through to asset management, analytics, project management, and smart metering solutions. Partnering with the right company who can advise you by understanding your business imperatives, strategy and other aspirations and focusing on these by implementing the necessary solutions in a considered approach is vital to a company’s ability to effectively  run their business.

The idea of approaching this can be daunting for companies faced with the current challenges such as clarifying  their operating model and focusing on infrastructural improvements, upgrades and expansion. How do the current trends such as big-data, cloud or mobile change operations, support efficiency gains or strategically support improved revenue collection, new revenue models or customer satisfaction? How can they grow to a vision of smart-metering and integrated supply chains? How can it support revenue assurance, protect against Fraud or support effective decision making? Such considerations are key to allowing you to quickly adapt to new challenges which is pivotal to the efficiency and even survival of companies.

Having a system that can do this and be an enabler and not inhibitor to your business becomes an imperative, as is getting up and running quickly. This is just one of the reasons that SAP as the recognized IT leader in utilities is a good choice as a strategic partner. Not only are they able to service the needs of today for basic requirements but also help recommend a phased approach aligned with your strategy to ensure continuous improvement in both operational efficiencies, transparency and innovation of new revenue streams and models. 

With SAP`s broad network of 282 accredited partners in Africa you have the privilege of choice and strong support. Whether you are looking for a quick-win, through SAP`s  many Rapid Deployment Solutions (fast, effective fixed price projects up and running in a matter of weeks) or a highly customised offering knowing you are working with the industry leader who can help guide and support you as well as remain focused on helping you achieve business results certainly improves your chances of success.

The focus on tangible benefits such as reduced operational costs, greater flexibility, improved grid operations, and faster response times whilst achieving more transparency for effective decision making from shop-floor to top-floor in real time  allows you to run your business better. All of this needs to be delivered and architected in a model that is easy to consume for your specific application, whether on-premise, in the cloud or in a hybrid environment. The decisions and process need not be another daunting challenge amongst many and we aim to ensure we are able to meet your specific requirements, share global and regional best practices as well as ensure consistency and scalability as a long-term partner.

This is why 91% of the electric utilities companies in the Forbes Global 2000 are SAP customers.  With over 2700 active customers in Africa alone we continue to invest heavily in the continent`s growth through partnering with leading companies in the private and public sector.

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