by Lauren Somer, Aggreko Africa
The public sector in Africa holds vulnerable populations in the palms of hands which are struggling to manage the rigours of legacy infrastructure and the complexities of technology and growing business demand.
Governments on the continent are responsible for essential services such as education, healthcare, and sanitation, and all these require reliable power to ensure that they run smoothly. The problem is that often when it comes to power, things do not always go to plan.
The limitations of power infrastructure in Africa pose a significant barrier to governments looking to establish solid foundations to support their economies. The national power supply grids in many countries are precarious – balanced between supply, repair, and neglect.
The need? To develop contingency plans which allow for governments to continue supplying power, particularly to high-level and emergency facilities, in the event of an unexpected or catastrophic failure. To be able to restore power at the flick of the proverbial switch.
The community power switch
Power is critical to ensure the safety and security of citizens in communities, particularly in more rural areas. Vulnerable people are at risk if there is no power at night, and the loss of power negatively impacts health facilities, access to services, and general quality of life. To ensure that there is accessible power in rural and vulnerable communities, governments need to invest in contingency power solutions which can deliver power on demand. Fortunately, some solutions have been designed to provide this level of power security for governments, without adding weight to existing budgetary constraints and overheads.
Aggreko has developed solutions which can provide temporary central heating for schools and essential areas within communities – such as town halls or churches – in the event of a natural disaster or a power failure during winter. The company has designed and installed temporary power plants in communities globally, designed to provide immediate respite when power is limited for unknown periods of time.
This type of solution should be accompanied by a customised contingency plan which caters for the different scenarios which affect power delivery. This will ensure that the chosen solution is optimised for the specific circumstances and not just an expense that does not work when needed. The development of a contingency plan which will help relevant communities and individuals respond quickly to unplanned emergencies so that a power failure does not end up being another emergency to add to the list.
Central business districts
The worst-case scenario is rarely one that business or government wants to contemplate, but it is essential to ensuring that the economy remains viable in a crisis. This is particularly relevant on the African continent where power failures are common, and infrastructure is weak. Organisations cannot afford to be without power for any length of time. The cost to the is too high.
By developing a robust power contingency plan for central business districts, governments can effectively mitigate the impact of an unplanned (or planned) power outage by providing ongoing power facilities to essential organisations. This level of investment into solutions designed to support the weight of business and its power demands will not supplant existing infrastructure, but rather provide an additional pillar on which the economy can rest.
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