Across the continent, the efficiency of electricity transmission and distribution varies wildly. Power generation is also very different in each nation with some moving towards renewable energy and others still strategically reliant on fossil fuels.
The movement of electricity from source to end users is critical – infrastructure arteries that power life and economic development. But, according to the World Bank, sub-Saharan Africa still loses around 12% of generated electrical power in the transmission and distribution process. With much inefficient and outdated equipment, it is clear that partnerships with the best are vital for ongoing energy security.
Major industrial sectors including ports, infrastructure, mining and rail are more reliant than ever on quality products and systems, allowing them to complete work and feed opportunities through the economy.
Thankfully, Vexila – a South African-based electrical technology designer and manufacturer – has a product range developed to international standards including composite insulators, fuse cut-outs, disconnectors, overhead line hardware components, vibration damping devices and string assemblies that is helping to vastly reduce maintenance and increase reliability in transmission and distribution. The company supplies its quality products to its customers in various countries in Africa, North America, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.
“We develop, produce, and distribute components and complete solutions that are particularly sensitive interfaces in modern energy networks,” the company says of its core offering. “In this respect, Vexila is one of a few companies worldwide that offers solutions for the complete transmission chain of medium to high voltage. For our customers, this means optimal power solutions for all requirements, both for now and into the future.”
Described as a chronically underfunded, often overlooked bottleneck in Africa’s journey to a high-energy future, transmission requires innovation and investment. Vexila is providing both, through a vertically integrated, tech-packed manufacturing facility.
“It’s the combination of accessible, intelligent solutions, decades of experience, skilled professionals and a sense of purpose that sets Vexila apart,” the company states.
The Pietermaritzburg facilities include: Silicone injection moulding; fibreglass reinforced polymer core pultrusion plant; gravity cast aluminium and ductile iron foundries; helical wireform production plant; and state-of-the-art tool and die development and manufacturing capability.
From here, Vexila has built its market leading brand, boasting the first 100% locally manufactured 400 kV composite insulators for African electrical utilities, including Eskom. More recently the company has developed and qualified another African first – a new 765 kV composite insulator.
It is the quality built into these systems that helps Vexila’s range to retain its popularity with clients.
“We are an ISO 9001:2015 certified company, having gained initial certification through the German Accreditation Company DQS in 2001. This certification underpins a full complement of engineering personnel and capabilities to design, plan, manufacture, manage and execute complex Overhead Line (OHL) and Overhead Traction Equipment (OHTE) supply projects, providing total solutions to the highest international quality standards,” the company says.
“Our reputable products can be found in critical electrical and rail infrastructure supporting the expansion of the South Africa’s transmission, distribution and rail freight corridors including the 780 km Saldanha Iron ore line and the 600 km Richards Bay Coal Line Corridor.”
In South Africa’s major mining industry, Vexila’s range is unrivalled. Mining specific power infrastructure is essential for one of the country’s main drivers of FDI and Vexila supplies lightweight, aerodynamic, low maintenance, vandal-resistant and locally designed and manufactured products suitable for the typically high pollution operating environment.
“As a pioneer in the design, manufacture and supply of composite fuse cut-outs and composite insulators which have been in use in Africa for over 25 and 40 years respectively, we offer peace of mind for both electrical distribution and transmission infrastructure products for use in the extreme operating environment experienced by the mining sector,” the company says.
Furthering its African credentials, Vexila became fully South African-owned when the Thesele Group acquired the company in 2018, rebranding from Pfisterer to Vexila in 2020. Thesele is a 100% black-owned investment company whose strategy is to develop Vexila into a proudly African Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in support of the critical roll-out of electrical and rail infrastructure on the continent and beyond.
“Over the past 40 years, we have grown into one of the largest manufacturers of composite insulators and associated products on the African continent with the most complete product offering in the market,” CEO Gary Whalley commented.
“We’re really excited, as an African OEM, to continue supplying and developing innovative products in support of infrastructure that will underpin economic development in Africa, as well as export markets outside of the continent” he said.
As this exciting, ambitious, and innovative business continues to thrive in Africa, power transmission and distribution will be invariably improved with products that are suitable for their environment, working to international quality standards, and manufactured by those that understand operating conditions.