Celebrating sustainable growth on Africa Industrialization Day

ABB technologies are helping the continent achieve sustainable and accelerated growth

Every year, African policy makers, business leaders, development partners and others gather to promote and discuss the continent’s industrialization agenda on Africa Industrialization Day. Marking the progress that the continent has made and the remarkable potential that lies ahead, the day represents a unique platform to raise awareness about the transformational opportunities that industrialization can help realize.

Industries are one of the important factors that enable development, and ABB is playing an important role in boosting sustainable industrialization in Africa. With economic conditions improving in several nations, ABB is ready to renew its commitment to support the continent’s need for better energy solutions.

ABB has been a longstanding partner in helping African nations manage their energy demands. It is now partnering with customers to ensure they are ready to benefit from the Fourth Industrial and Energy Revolutions through digitalization solutions that help industries boost productivity. This will build on the strong foundation that ABB has already laid over the years by providing reliable distribution and transmission of power and extending access to electricity, a key enabler of industrial development.

The Robben Island Microgrid Project

For instance, ABB has provided the largest installation of high voltage gas-insulated switchgear (GIS), comprising 38 bays, to the Sebenza substation to enhance power reliability in Johannesburg. GIS is a compact metal encapsulated switchgear that includes high-voltage components, such as circuit breakers and disconnectors, which can be safely operated in confined spaces such as roofs of city buildings, offshore platforms, industrial plants and hydro power plants. As part of this project, ABB has also supplied circuit breakers, surge arresters and point-on-wave controllers that remove electrical transients in the network, thereby ensuring its safety, reliability and efficiency with minimal environmental impact.

Enabling clean energy for a sustainable future

While reliable distribution of power is important, it is wider usage of clean energy that will ultimately help the continent create a sustainable future for its residents. Using ABB’s pioneering HVDC technology, grid operators can transmit renewable power underground, under water and across entire continents far more efficiently than conventional lines.

  • 3DRC access to electricity project
  • DRC access to electricity project
  • Longmeadow microgrid project

In Africa, ABB has executed the partial upgrade of the 1,700 kilometer Inga-Kolwezi HVDC link for Société Nationale D'électricité (SNEL), the national electricity company of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The link, which transmits clean power from the Inga hydropower station on the Congo River to the mining district of Katanga in the south-east of the country, was built by ABB more than two decades ago, at which point this was the world’s longest transmission line.

Because HVDC technology allows for transmission of large amounts of electricity to large distances with higher efficiency and lower losses than traditional AC lines, SNEL has been able to generate excess power that it shares with Southern African Power Pool nations. ABB upgraded the link a decade ago, with systems that can support ABB Ability™ digital offerings, which allows for predictive maintenance of the transmission line. After the upgrade, ABB refurbished the link to boost its transmission capacity, enhance grid reliability, extend life span and ensure the efficient transmission of hydro-electricity across the region. The link will play an important role in enabling DRC to utilize its tremendous hydroelectric potential.

Boosting local manufacturing

Being a global firm with presence across the world, ABB maintains a strong local manufacturing presence in the continent. In September, ABB South Africa’s motor and generator factory in Alrode, near Johannesburg, was found fully compliant with the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) regulation that mandates “greater than 70% local sourcing.”

The Alrode motor factory
The Alrode motor factory

ABB’s commitment to the region and modernization of local manufacturing facilities are reflected in the forty-year old factory’s upgrade, which enables it to manufacture and test large induction and synchronous motors, and generators for power utilities, heavy industries and mines in South Africa and beyond.

With operations in 23 African countries and 5,000 employees across the continent, ABB has been driving innovation in the continent’s energy generation. ABB will continue to support development and write the future in Africa, enabling industries and countries to tap the massive potential of the continent and create a brighter future for its citizens.

Find out more about ABB's Robben Island microgrid project here: https://new.abb.com/distributed-energy-microgrids/projects/robben-island

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