Challenges bring opportunities for the electrical industry

February 3rd, 2015, Published in Articles: Vector


Michael Straton

Michael Straton

The new year is barely underway and 2015 has already presented us with a number of challenges. Eskom introduced rolling load shedding with Medupi 6 (which was supposed to be online by now) again subjected to more delays and controversy. It also announced that one reactor at Koeberg will go offline for maintenance and that it is experiencing a cash crisis as it has spent too much money on diesel to keep the lights on. NERSA subsequently agreed that Eskom can recoup part of its loss in previous years with an additional increase to its tariffs.

However, challenges should be seen as opportunities and alert entrepreneurs who are able to respond to them in innovative ways will thrive. These challenges will also benefit the electrical industry. Demand for private generation is again at a high as end-users try to negate the effects of loss of productivity and income caused by to the unreliable electricity supply.

Interest in solar power has soared as this technology is seen as an alternative to the inevitable above-inflation increases that will be handed down in electricity prices annually for the foreseeable future. A greater emphasis is also placed on electrical efficiency and energy conservation systems and services.

The ECA(SA) has also seen its fair share of challenges in 2014 but has come through these well, thanks to committed staff and members who dedicate their time and effort to passing on a solid legacy to the generations of electrical contractors who follow.

In the spirit of this legacy, the members of the association’s national executive committee will meet at the beginning of March to outline a five-year strategic plan for this association. This follows the last Strategic Conference in 2010, where decisions in a number of key areas were taken and a framework for policy and direction provided.

This year, delegates will grapple with issues which will include the training of apprentices, elconops and management; changes in technology and the regulations around these; inclusivity of all contractors; related industries; the mobility of labour and contracting businesses across borders and relationships with other, similar organisations in Africa.

The matter of imported and locally manufactured electrical equipment which does not conform to any recognised standard, but which is still sold to the unsuspecting end-user, is another challenge. To this end, the ECA has joined SAFEHouse, an organisation comprised mostly of industry players to bring awareness and to direct action against these potentially lethal products.

Another challenge to our industry involves a threat to our reputation and end-users’ trust. This threat comes from contractors who are not registered with the NBCEI and who enter into unfair competition with legitimate contractors.

The Association supports the NBCEI’s Crack Team initiative to identify these contractors and to ensure compliance. ECA member contractors are encouraged to share the details of “pirate” contractors with their local ECA regional directors.

Finally, we strongly encourage our members to become actively involved in the work of the Association by sharing knowledge and best practice with others. It is only through member input that our Association can grow, influence and leave a lasting legacy.

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