David Crabb gives his perspective on the ways in which Caterpillar and its dealer network are addressing the rapidly evolving needs of the African market.
How is Africa unique in its needs for power?
The first thing that comes to mind is the rapidly expanding population. According to the latest estimates from the United Nations, the population of Africa will rise from about 1bn today to approximately 4bn by the end of this century.
The next characteristic that makes Africa unique is the low per-capita consumption of electricity, which is about 15% of the global average, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Starting from this low base, improved electrification in rural areas, as well as the increased affordability of electricity, will lead to a rapid increase in consumption.
Finally, access to finance is a significant factor. The shift from centralised power plants to distributed generation will lead to faster decisions about investments and an increased flow of foreign investment, which will help customers improve profitability. Investments will be timed with the actual power need, reducing the upfront capital expenditure. Recent large photovoltaic (PV) projects in the region show a lower levelised cost of energy than traditional power plants.
Africa has demonstrated an ability to change quickly; the transition to mobile phone infrastructure--bypassing the use of fixed land tines-for example. Distributed renewable energy has the potential to have a greater impact on the daily lives of Africans.
While the scale of change in Africa is unique, it also shares the need of the rest of the world for stable, reliable and timely power as a key for economic growth, safety and security.
How is Caterpillar uniquely positioned to serve customers in the African market?
Caterpillar has a long history in Africa, and we have grown as our African customers have grown. We have adapted our product offerings to cope with the fuel, heat, humidity, dust and other extremes.
Moving forward, we face the challenge of integrating distributed generation and new technologies with traditional power grids, and it will be critical for us to ensure the delivery of reliable power for the African economy during this rapid expansion.
Our broad product portfolio and global perspective, combined with the local expertise of the Cat dealer network, are key advantages for Caterpillar. We can tap our company's collective knowledge on any...