“Aiteo is interested in changing lives by powering the economies of Africa and the Sub-Saharan region for sustainable growth”

Dr Ransome OwanExclusive interview with Dr. Ransome Owan, the Group Managing Director, Aiteo Power Generation and Distribution Company. Aiteo is a platinum sponsor at the upcoming WAPIC conference and expo in Lagos in November and Dr Owan will address the event on “The emerging investor-owned electricity industry in Nigeria and prospects for economic boom”.

Can we start with an overview of AITEO’s interests in the power industry in Africa, and in West Africa in particular?
Aiteo is interested in changing lives by powering the economies of Africa and the Sub-Saharan region for sustainable growth.

What do you bring to this industry that is competitive?
We offer an end-to-energy solution to customers so that they can focus on their core businesses.  Our technology and innovation partners are best in the industry globally.

What current projects in this region are you most excited about at the moment?
The privatization of the entire Nigerian power industry is the most ambitious anywhere in the world. Currently, 10 new power plants have been auctioned for $5.6 billion and sale of the national utility company fetched over $3 billion as of November 1, 2013.  At the same many IPPs are underway to close the power demand gap of about 40 GW.

Any success stories you can share?
The handover of the Nigerian electricity distribution and generation to the private sector last year was a watershed moment.  The transaction was largely funded by local banks without FDI.

What in your view are the main challenges to the industry currently?
The challenge of incoherent and disjointed planning and lack of reliable feed stock to generate when assets are ready.  Lack of sound structural framework for long-term financing at reasonable rates.

What is your vision for this industry?
The greatest life changing experience will be powered by our industry as the main tangent for growth and reversal of fortunes for all Africans.

What surprises you about the industry?
The lack of attention to one of the most capital and technology intensive industry by many national governments has been the bane to the blight of many.

You are a platinum sponsor at WAPIC this year, why did you decide to partner with the event?
We see the greatest change to the quality of life emanating from the provision of steady power.  Aiteo is driving that success and WAPIC is a good platform for us.

What will your message be at the event?
We urge all participants to seek propitious relationships to light up the continent.  The abject lack of power is most acute in African.  Therefore, collaborations are apt to deliver value.

How important is WAPIC on the power calendar in Nigeria?
WAPIC is a good platform for the exchange of ideas are business relation development.

Anything you would like to add?
African lending banks need to develop new and innovative tools to bring liquidity to the sector.  At the moment it takes far too long to reach financial close on power projects.  It should be made even much easier to obtain acquisition finance over project finance because lenders and project sponsors are closer to the cash than project development that takes much longer. A case in point, Nigeria is selling ten new constructed power plants requiring acquisition finance, yet we find top tier lenders that are prohibited from such finance.  The limited way of participation if institutions such as ADB can lend to domestic banks who in turn unlend to project owners.  A derisked project should be more attractive than a long-term development project.