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Econet's DPA joins hands with Google firm

The Econet Group's renewable energy unit, Distributed Power Africa (DPA), has teamed up with X (formerly known as Google X), Alphabet's moonshot factory, on a new venture that will enable reliable electricity access in South Africa.

This comes as the group, through its various business units, is proactively expanding into new areas like cloud computing, cyber security, renewable energy, digital applications for financial services, as well as transportation, following a protracted decline in traditional telecommunications services.

To achieve this transformation into a fully-fledged technology company, the pan-African group is developing more strategic partnerships with global players such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and MasterCard.

DPA chief executive Norman Moyo said the latest partnership with X will focus on building a real-time model for the future of South Africa's electricity system to improve the planning and operation of the grid, address blackouts, ensure reliable electricity, and facilitate an increased reliance on renewable energy sources.

"Our work with X will provide the missing piece in the energy ecosystem in Africa.

"X's moonshot for the electric grid team is enabling a virtual matching platform for generators and consumers of electrons,"  Moyo  said.

"Africa's biggest crisis today is energy security.

"There is a strong correlation between energy security and GPD growth.

"Distributed energy is a key catalyst to leapfrog the continent's legacy energy structural deficiencies."

The partnership between DPA and X is coming at a time when South Africa's power utility Eskom, which provides over 90% of the country's power, is struggling to keep the lights on, and has had to resort to crippling load-shedding bouts, much to the detriment of Africa's most diversified economy.

Audrey Zibelman, vice-president of X's moonshot for the electric grid, said her organisation was delighted to be working with DPA to support their efforts to transition South Africa to a more reliable, sustainable and equitable grid.

"People everywhere deserve access to clean and reliable power and X's moonshot for the electric grid team is committed to accelerating an equitable energy transition," Zibelman said.

"As our first partner in Africa we're looking forward to learning from DPA and their innovative approach as it will deepen our understanding of the problems that need to be solved in order to transform electrical grids so they better serve the people who rely on them every day."

X announced earlier this year that it was working on a moonshot for the electric grid.

Since then, the team has been developing new computational tools designed to capacitate companies, grid operators, governments and utilities to plan, build, and manage a clean and resilient grid.

Leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence, the team is building tools to enable the real-time virtualisation of electric grids.

This will be done through virtualisation of the national electrical transmission and distribution grids, and developing new grid tools to assist with planning, and to promote energy resilience and low carbon power in South Africa.

The moonshot platform is also expected to expedite assessments and placement of new clean energy sources, allowing for quick development of new power plants and a faster response to South Africa's electricity crisis.

DPA supports businesses and communities across the continent, with resilient and cost-effective renewable energy solutions.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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