In 2017, the African continent still suffers from unreliable, insufficient and costly power generation and distribution. The smart management of electrical infrastructure is a prerequisite for sustainable socio-economic development. How do GLS Consulting and IMQS Software cooperate to offer African cities a comprehensive electricity infrastructure management solution?

AFRICA NEEDS ELECTRICITY


Africa is in dire need of electricity.

In 2017, the African continent still suffers from unreliable, insufficient and costly power generation and distribution. Power plants and transmission lines across the continent operate at a fraction of their installed capacity. This is due to insufficient maintenance and modernisation of infrastructure, which stems from an under-investment in the sector.

This situation does not only impact access and consumption, but moreover negatively affects regional integration and drives away precious investment.

Africa’s struggle to generate higher and more inclusive growth and socio-economic development can be directly attributed to this electricity deficit, says the World Economic Forum. According to McKinsey & Co, there is a proven correlation between electricity consumption and economic development. Evidence shows that “countries with electrification rates of less than 80 percent of the population consistently suffer from reduced GDP per capita”. While Africa’s population makes up 13% of the global population, this 13% represents 48% of the total global population lacking electricity!

Although nearly 1 billion people in Sub-Saharan Africa could gain electricity access by 2040, the World Bank estimates that 530 million will still remain energy impoverished due to population growth.

The rapid decrease in costs for renewable energy technologies such as solar can help countries expand access to energy for their people. However, investing money and time into managing and maintaining old, damaged and disrupted electricity infrastructure is imperative.

MANAGING ELECTRICITY INFRASTRUCTURE THE SMART WAY


Africa needs smart electricity management!

The smart management of electrical infrastructure is a prerequisite for sustainable socio-economic development. Smart management is built on informed decision-making based on reliable information.

For African cities to manage current demand and growth, municipal engineers and financial planners must be able to accurately determine:

Where and when demand for the service will develop

Where infrastructure assets are located geographically

The value of these assets and asset components

Whether existing infrastructure is sufficient for present and future demand

What weaknesses exist that may impact current and future service delivery

How to best address challenges to ensure that service delivery objectives are met.

GLS Consulting and IMQS Software are both subsidiaries of the greater EOH Group. Together they offer an integrated, end-to-end electricity infrastructure and demand management solution built on the back of cutting-edge engineering and GIS technology.

Let’s take a look at how this solution works.

DYNAMIC MASTER PLANNING THE GLS WAY


It all starts with GLS’s dynamic master-planning process.

The GLS master plan is essentially a digital document that accurately maps the entire electricity distribution network of a municipality. The process is highly technical and based on some complex mathematical equations. What it achieves, however, is the construction of an accurate, living and geographically mapped image of a municipality’s electricity network based on the flow of electrical power through its interconnected system.

Two GLS Software products help to further enable a better understanding of the network:

SWIFT is used to analyse billing information. The process generates real-world demand and consumption data that can be fed into the master plan.

EdiSAN helps to more easily identify critical areas and prioritise actions to improve the existing system.

The geographic models and dynamic master plans make the necessary data available to inform refurbishment programmes and electricity demand management interventions as well as planning for up to 40 years into the future.

SMART ELECTRICITY INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT


The information rendered by GLS can be uploaded to the IMQS Asset Register on a constant basis. This in turn allows this data to be understood from an infrastructure asset management perspective.

The IMQS Asset Register ensures that the IMQS solution complies with South African legislation. It forms the backbone of an integrated system that links with IMQS’s various asset and accounting software modules such as the IMQS Electricity Module and the IMQS Maintenance Management Module. Reports are easily generated, informing planning, as well as reporting to the auditor general.

The IMQS Electricity Module enables more accurate planning of future demand to ensure that the right investment is made at the right time for the right areas. Electricity-network data is used to create a data model of the existing electricity infrastructure. When the data model is combined with GIS technology, a powerful spatial snapshot of the current electricity infrastructure is rendered. This image can be viewed from different angles to assist in identifying existing gaps in the connection and supply of electricity to consumers. When the electricity network model is overlaid with the electricity demand model, it becomes a powerful tool to assist in demand planning. Demand planning ensures that the current demand is met without over-utilising current infrastructure.

The IMQS Maintenance Management Module assists in meeting the municipality’s infrastructure maintenance requirements. Proven process-management technologies ensure that all maintenance tasks are attended to and nothing gets lost or forgotten. The Module leverages the geographically referenced asset data to inform preventative maintenance interventions, work-force mobilisation and incident logging.

THE BENEFITS OF SMART ELECTRICITY MANAGEMENT


The information rendered and made available by the GLS/IMQS solution can play an integral role in assisting African municipalities to become smarter, more resilient organisations.

Beyond electricity, the integrated system can be applied as an end-to-end solution for the management of any asset class, including water, roads, storm water and solid waste. The consistent flow of updated data between GLS and IMQS constructs a powerful engine that keeps municipal engineers informed and makes the work of stakeholders, at various levels, more manageable and cost-effective.

For more information on our electricity solutions, why not read our case study on George Local Municipality. You can also contact us directly. We would love to hear from you!