African Utility Week names City Power boss utility exec of the year

Sicelo Xulu
City Power’s Sicelo Xulu receives his award from Brett Grobbelaar, managing director – Resources South Africa at Accenture

The managing director of South African utility City Power Sicelo Goodwill Xulu has been named Top Utility Executive of the Year at the annual African Utility Week Industry Awards in Cape Town.

Durban’s eThekwini was named Municipality of the Year while South African national retailer Ackermans won the Energy & Water Efficiency Project of the Year.

Ms Florence Nsubuga, executive director of the Ugandan energy distribution network company UMEME, won in the new category of Outstanding Woman in Power/Water.

The awards, which were announced last week at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, were opened by executive mayor, Patricia de Lille.

Industry Award winners

Utility Executive of the Year:
Upon receiving his award, City Power’s Mr Xulu said: “I am honoured and humbled to be conferred this award. This award is a tribute to the exceptional work that the members of the executive and management team did, it pays homage to the untrammelled vision that the board and members have articulated and it is an acknowledgement of the diligent work done by the entire workforce of City Power which gave expression and impetus to this vision.”

Xulu, who is also the President of the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities of Southern Africa (AMEU), led the Johannesburg utility in reducing billing losses by 10% and achieving a 98% meter reading by 2015.

The awards judges also noted that in light of the security of supply challenges, Xulu initiated Demand Site Management (DSM) initiatives such as achieving an unqualified audit for City Power for the first time in four years and the Solar Water Heater programme, the largest in South Africa and City Power’s flagship programme.

Energy & Water Efficiency Project of the Year:
Well-known retailer Ackermans won the Top Energy & Water Efficiency Project of the Year with project SWATT, an initiative aimed at reducing the energy footprint of the business and achieving the highest possible return on investment through reducing electricity costs.

The scope of the project included assessing the technology, control mechanisms and behaviour relating to energy usage in all Ackermans retail outlets nationwide, and to create an ongoing integrated energy management programme that could be driven by Ackerman’s management team, and in which UGU Engineering Solutions plays a central role.

The award judges said SWATT was “an excellent project with well-documented savings and improved operations through use of technology.”

“We’re very proud to have won this award” said Jonathan Pratt, GM Ops Support at Ackermans. “For us it is very important to sustain this culture of energy efficiency and of giving back. We are particularly proud that most of the lights that we use are manufactured locally in Kuilsrivier.”

He says the Ackermans employees were “incredibly positive” in their response to the project. “For them the energy that they save also means higher profits for their shops. SWATT was a combination of change management and technology and we can really measure it and are able to sustain the savings.”

Outstanding Woman in Power/Water Award

Florence Nsubuga, executive director, UMEME, a Ugandan energy distribution network company, said “I am humbled by this award.

”It takes me back to when I was a little girl and my grandmother, who was a farmer, and had no electricity so her days always ended early. Little did I know that I was able to later add so much value to her life as a farmer where she was able to be so much more productive when she got electricity. I am very proud to be part of that story”.

As former COO and now Executive Director of UMEME, Florence Nsubuga oversees 600 direct permanent and another 1,000 indirect employees. Florence has delivered outstanding results through her Leadership Stand of Empowerment, Development; Collaboration; Accountability and Integrity.

Municipality of the Year:
The e’Thekwini Municipality was recognised and rewarded for its Communal Ablution Blocks (CABs) and achieving an effective temporary solution to address the problem of inadequate provision of water and sanitation service delivery.

The CABs are modified shipping containers, each containing two showers, each with a door for privacy, two flushing toilets with doors, two hand basins and a small locked storeroom for cleaning materials. Attached to the outside of each container are 4 basins used for washing clothes. Lighting is provided at night and improves the safety of users, particularly the safety of women and children.

The CABs are connected to the municipal sewerage and water systems and are provided on 350 sites in informal settlements in pairs – one for women and one for men. The judges described the CABs as “an excellent project that improved the lives of 500 000 residents of informal settlements. The award is very well deserved as the municipality solved problems and created jobs”.

 Other winners in the African Utility Week Industry Awards were:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award Lawrence Musaba, Coordination Centre Manager, Southern African Power Pool, Zimbabwe
  • African Power Utility of the Year KenGen, Kenya
  • African Water Utility of the Year National Water and Sewerage Corporation, Uganda
  • Clean Energy Project of the Year 280MW Olkaria Geothermal Power Expansion Project, KenGen, Kenya
  • African Community Project of the Year Bokpoort CSP project, ACWA Power, South Africa
  • Collaboration of the Year

          Kariba Dam Rehabilitation Project, Zambezi River Authority, Zambia