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Electricity Control October 2019As the Fourth Industrial Revolution gains momentum it is generating a great deal of anxiety, at the same time as it is opening up new opportunities and inspiring fresh thinking.

Against the background of very real concerns around the disruption of jobs and the urgent need for reskilling, upskilling and new skills development, Henry Craukamp, Managing Director of Rockwell Automation, Sub-Saharan Africa, presents a flipside approach, looking towards a solution. He flags adaptability as the most valuable education commodity going forward, identifies core skills that will be needed as a starting point, and highlights how digital technologies themselves can be used to deliver training and support new skills development.

In its report on the status of digitalisation in industry in Africa, based on research conducted with Frost & Sullivan, Siemens South Africa reviews key industry sectors. Ralf Leinen, Senior VP for Southern and Eastern Africa, Siemens Digital Industries, highlights the opportunities that smart technology presents, at this moment, to transform entire economies and enable countries – and companies – across Africa to claim their competitive standing in the global economy.

At the 28th World Economic Forum on Africa hosted in Cape Town in early September, the Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni presented the South African government’s perspective on inclusive growth in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He said the continent must respond with agility to the disruptive trends and technologies that are changing our way of life, the way we do business and our systems of governance – and use technology to promote greater equity and broader social and economic participation. Mboweni pointed to the opportunities that technological change presents for African countries to accelerate development and enhance their global competitiveness. He said we must be prepared to take risks or risk being left behind.

On the other side of the globe, ITU Telecom World 2019 was hosted in Budapest, Hungary, also in early September. At that forum, the International Telecommunications Union and Cisco launched the Digital Transformation Centres Initiative which is aimed specifically at tackling the digital skills gap and bridging the digital divide at an international scale. The initiative will engage with a network of institutions to run digital skills training programmes in specific tech areas and at all levels: from basic, to intermediate, to entrepreneurial, and advanced skills training. The first phase will kick off in January 2020, starting with 10 selected Digital Transformation Centres in Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions.

Looking at cables and connectivity, Lapp has developed a predictive maintenance solution for Ethernet cables so that cables can be replaced before they fail and consequential unplanned downtime can be avoided. And in another new development, Hradil Sepzialkabel has developed a high-performance hybrid cable that enables data transmission via Ethernet as well as power transmission up to an operating voltage of 125 V.

As solar PV systems are increasingly being installed to provide an alternative and clean energy supply to businesses, institutions and other localised, microgrid demands, they are naturally external installations and often rooftop mounted and hence exposed to all weather conditions. They need to be properly earthed and protected from lightning discharges in order to prevent direct or conducted damages or electrical interference. Director at Lightning Protection Concepts, Trevor Manas, sets out the specific requirements for lightning protection systems for rooftop solar PV installations.

In the field of pressure and level measurement, Instrotech presents a range of instruments to measure and monitor groundwater levels, and in the field of analytical instrumentation Spectro Analytical Instruments presents a single solution, using dual side-on interface technology, for ICP-OES analyses in environmental applications.

Looking to the future, Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies, based in Erlangen, Germany, has attracted additional investments to advance its development of liquid organic hydrogen carrier technology as a medium for storage and distribution of renewable energies. Hydrogen is seen as a potentially important energy vector in the global energy transition.

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Leigh Darroll
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