Nigeria

The 15th edition of the Future Energy Nigeria conference and exhibition exceeded the attendees’ expectations as they debated the roadmap to the country’s future energy mix, the disruptive role of digitalisation, and the influence of upcoming legislation.

This article first appeared in ESI-Africa Edition 1, 2019. You can read the magazine's articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

Nigeria’s potential to become one of the world’s largest economies will remain an aspiration should the electricity required to pursue aggressive industrialisation not be addressed. Fast-tracking the delivery of constant and affordable electricity in the region necessitates solution-based projects and initiatives geared towards overcoming the crisis identified in the sector.

Setting the scene, to debate the crisis, the preliminary keynote session of Future Energy Nigeria caused a great deal of discussion around the overall utility landscape of West Africa and how to expand Nigeria’s generation and transmission capacity. Gas-to-power as well as the role of renewables was widely discussed together with how the LNG/ CNG industry is supporting the gas generation market.

The context of discussion was the increase in industrialisation, which is boosting the need for despatchable energy and baseload generation offering 365 days of stable power. Nigeria needs to ensure a balanced energy mix and many believe that nuclear power could be a great addition. This was highlighted in the keynote speech presented by Dimitri Shanokov, the CEO of Rosatom in Southern Africa, who evaluated Nigeria’s power deficit.

Clean energy access

A common theme throughout the event was how to ensure access to energy, empowering rural communities through community based power, while reducing deforestation and emissions and increasing energy efficiency. Decentralised energy is considered the answer to the challenges of electrification rates and energy access. The off-grid space in Nigeria is said to be the space to watch. Besides policy amendments in the pipeline, big changes in the market are expected, as donor funded programmes are commencing during the course of 2019.

In order to achieve greater energy access, infrastructure upgrades are a must. Attendees at the conference and expo conceded that augmenting grid infrastructure with renewable resources and energy storage needs to occur, together with the establishment of mini grids throughout rural areas. It was also emphasised that industry stakeholders must meet 100% of their renewable energy goals, selling excess power back to the grid. Encouraging customers to lower their reliance on the grid and lower their energy bills will also go a long way to boosting efficiency targets.

The role of government was hotly debated. Government must accurately forecast their energy spend with predictable energy rates. The proper implementation of good governance amongst those with decision making clout is vital as well as a policy framework that encourages energy access and energy efficiency. The industry is looking forward to the Nigerian Power Sector Recovery Plan, the objective being to restore sector viability and to strengthen public and private participation.

Digital disruption

Digitalisation has been hailed as a major disruptive force within the sector. As more processes rely on the Internet of Things (IoT), achieving IT/OT convergence is critical on a national level. The fact that no digital landscape can operate effectively without cybersecurity measures in place was a popular topic amongst delegates and speakers alike at Future Energy Nigeria. It is essential that organisations and utilities address security issues from an executive board level, as getting this right will allow businesses to achieve their goals.

The Cyber Security Expert Association of Nigeria is working on setting up the Nigerian Centre for Cyber Security Training and Capacity Development. The centre aims to equip professionals with the skills to tackle this ever changing landscape. Protection of customer data, preventing malware and ransomware, as well as ensuring business continuity of mission critical systems in the event of a malicious attack requires collaboration and information sharing between organisations in the know.

Identifying risks and mitigating them at a strategic level was a key theme at several roundtable discussions and knowledge hub sessions hosted during the event.

Non-technical losses

Another major theme of Future Energy Nigeria addressed how to tackle nontechnical losses. Industry experts encouraged the sector to acknowledge failures and begin to take practical steps to reduce theft. Effectively using smart meters, disseminating correct tariff information, using latest crime fighting technology, as well as encouraging a policy and culture of whistle blowing was suggested.

Revenue cycle management, billing and maximising metering solutions are priorities for the sector. Electricity as a commodity must be paid for, an issue of customer sensitisation and fostering a culture of paying for services received. Successful billing in general is seen to be problematic, which is why the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) bill is certainly worth all the fuss.

MAP will encourage data integrity and management, allow for scrutiny of the licensing and policy framework, and close the metering gap through cost reflective tariffs.

High level engagement

Several high level speakers graced the event, offering key insights:

The Secretary General of the West African Power Pool, Siengui Apollinaire Ki, highlighted how Benin and Nigeria can integrate the national electricity network, to help Nigeria develop transmission lines from 35 utilities across 110 mainland countries.

Chukwudozie Okpalaobieri, Energy Sector Policy and Regulations Specialist at African Development Bank, who represented Ebrima Faal, the Country Director for the African Development Bank, emphasised the need to restore sector viability through infrastructure upgrades and enhanced access to off-grid power.

Emantonghan Osaisai, Director: Investment Sector Development, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Nigeria, who represented the Hon Babatunde Fashola, Minister, Federal Minister of Power, Works and Housing in Nigeria, presented the Minister’s speech with a core message on expansion and systematic advancement into a renewable energy mix.

After the many discussions that took place between thought leaders at Future Energy Nigeria, which included 10 Nigerian Utility CEOs who met at the Utility CEO Forum: Nigeria co-located with the event, it is clear that DISCOS, GENCOS, and government need to work together in order to unlock value within the market and ensure equal access and energy security. ESI

This article first appeared in ESI-Africa Edition 1, 2019. You can read the magazine's articles here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

About Future Energy Nigeria 2019

Future Energy Nigeria (formerly known as the West African Power Industry Convention) is the largest and longest running regional power and energy conference and exhibition in West Africa. The event will take place on 12 – 13 November 2019, at the Eko Hotel in Lagos.

www.future-energy-nigeria.com | Twitter @FutureEnergyHub