West African utilities must prioritise technological innovation if they wish to achieve full
sustainability and meet the demands of a rapidly growing population

Africa’s energy challenges are well-documented. Insufficient
capacity, low levels of consumer access, high costs, and poor reliability are
the major shortcomings that threaten the continent’s long-term economic growth
and competitiveness.

The role of reliable access to utilities in a country’s growth
cannot be underestimated. Without an effective power sector providing reliable
energy, industry simply cannot take place. Ensuring the sustainability of West
Africa’s utilities is a requisite for continued human and economic development,
particularly in the face of skyrocketing demand – by 2030 electricity usage is
expected to double in developing countries.

This is no easy task, but there is a way. Investing in the
right technologies will equip regional power and utilities bodies with the tools
to achieve sustainability while keeping costs down and generating a steady
revenue stream. In sharp contrast to the sluggish growth of its energy coverage
is West Africa’s burgeoning mobility footprint. ICT has rapidly become
indispensable in modern African society, laying the groundwork for a
technological leap forward in all sectors of society.

Technologies such as applications, analytics, mobile, cloud,
and databases have streamlined business operations around the world by
introducing end-to-end visibility. Companies that implement these solutions
experience higher productivity, reduced overheads, better talent and resource
management, expanded analytical and decision-making capabilities, incredible capacity
for innovation, and radically improved transparency and accountability.

Utilities can now integrate exciting technologies such as
smart metering infrastructure and grid management software alongside more
general solutions aimed at optimising human resources, billing and finances,
procurement, supply chains, and customer experiences.

The transformative potential of emerging technologies is
there. Power and utilities companies need only to figure out how to harness it.
Limited financial resources mean that investment decisions must be made wisely.
Collaborating with the right organisation is of utmost importance, but finding
one with the requisite expertise in business communication technologies as well
the regional utilities sector can be difficult.

One such company is SAP, which has dedicated large amounts
of senior resources toward developing software solutions aimed at African
markets. Sustainability is a key pillar of its utility solutions strategy, and
this makes it a natural partner for the West African utilities industry.

West African nations cannot afford their utilities to come
up short in the coming years if they wish to meet and exceed their
developmental goals. The pressures to provide reliable energy and water become
even more significant, but technology will ultimately play the deciding role in
whether sustainability will become a reality.

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