Supporting Africa

The ABB FIA Formula E Championship racing series rolls into Marrakesh this weekend, the circuit’s only stop in the African continent. And as Africa moves into the digital age ABB remains a longstanding partner in the development of the continents sustainable power and mobility.

The world's first fully-electric street racing series, the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, brings the latest innovations in electric vehicle and alternative energy solutions to city centers. The championship was created originally by Formula E founders as a means to demonstrate the potential of sustainable mobility to help create a better, cleaner world. A year ago ABB brought its name and innovation and technology leadership to the series, while aligning with ABB’s deep commitment to running the world without consuming the earth.

With a heritage of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB takes pride in developing and deploying technologies that stimulate economic growth and directly improve people’s lives. ABB has been present in Africa since the early 20th century, beginning in South Africa in 1907. Today ABB has operations throughout the continent - merging the diverse local presences that span a continent into a unified global company.

With such a long local history ABB Africa has an extensive list of significant projects helping Africa develop its economy and infrastructure and the development of industry and sustainable infrastructure. Highlights from recent history include projects across a range of sectors, including transporting energy across vast distances, improving transportation and infrastructure, improving industry, and delivering remote microgrids.

ABB is writing the future of how the world powers, produces, works, lives and moves by delivering proven value for customers with deep domain expertise, integrated solutions and the ABB Ability™ digital platform. Building on emerging technologies including artificial intelligence and a strong software offering, ABB Ability™ meets the increasing demand from customers in the African continent for digital solutions in the rapidly changing world.

Most recently ABB supported Tanzania’s pioneering effort to build the first modern electric rail infrastructure in East Africa and encourage sustainable mobility in Africa. The equipment will help power two separate but adjoining east-west rail lines – the Dar es Salaam – Morogoro railway line (DSM), and the Morogoro – Makutupora railway line (MDM). The new high-speed electric rail line will replace a slow, narrow-gauge line built more than 100 years ago, which is not suitable for high-speed transport of cargo and passengers.


The project will provide a crucial link between the country’s most important port of Dar es Salaam and the country’s interior hub, which also serves as a vital crossroads for north-south railway linkages. Tanzania, home to well-known game parks and destinations like Mount Kilimanjaro remains largely rural but aspires to become a regional transport hub between its port cities and hinterland areas and neighboring land-locked countries. When complete, the rail system will provide a vital link from the neighboring countries to the global market via Dar es Salaam and will create a development corridor to sustain future growth.

The lack of access to electricity is a particular challenge for sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 600 million people do not have access to electricity. With over 50 percent of the continent’s fast-growing population due to live in cities by 2050, the need for reliable, sustainable energy is crucial.

To that end, new technologies can bring innovative solutions. For example, renewables-powered microgrids from ABB have already demonstrated their efficacy in delivering a reliable, high-quality power supply. In northern Kenya, for instance, the remote town of Marsabit with a population of 5,000, relies exclusively on a wind- and diesel-powered microgrid, which ABB upgraded to maximize the use of wind energy.

The microgrid system ABB installed on South Africa’s Robben Island, the World Heritage Site and museum where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during apartheid is expected to lower fuel costs and carbon emissions by 75 percent. The island previously relied on diesel generators but now uses ABB’s extensive digital capabilities to achieve optimal efficiency. The ABB Ability™ remote monitoring capability enables the system to be monitored and operated from Cape Town, nine kilometers away.

Robben Island, South Africa
Robben Island, South Africa

ABB also powers the largest logistics hub of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) through a state-of-the-art microgrid, delivering reliable power for the first time in a region exposed to frequent outages and power quality issues.

Africa is poised for a new era of growth and development. Having already laid a strong foundation, ABB is building on the momentum, leading the way towards to a further developed, yet sustainable future - helping to drive transformational change in African countries through delivering sustainable solutions. ABB Ability™ tailored digital solutions will drive customer value while capturing synergies through its common platform.

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