Exclusive interview with Dr Rajeev Singh, the Director General and CEO of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The ICC is the featured country partner at the upcoming Future Energy Nigeria, hosting a pavilion of almost 50 suppliers of specialised technology and services for the energy sector.
Welcome back to Future Energy Nigeria – how successful has the event been for your members over the past few years and what are the specific lessons you have learnt about this market?
Nigeria as a country holds tremendous promise for Indian Companies in terms of exports. Our exporters have forged good alliances and they are exporting to Nigeria in decent quantum through participation in this programme for the last two years.
We have observed that there is a tremendous potential for Indian products in this market and we should continue to create more opportunity space for Indian companies to cater to Nigerian ecosystem.
Let’s look at the background of the Indian Chamber – there is a proud history there.
Founded in 1925, Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the leading and only National Chamber of Commerce operating from Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mumbai and is one of the most pro-active and forward-looking Chambers in the country today. Its membership spans some of the most prominent and major industrial groups in India.
ICC’s forté is its ability to anticipate the needs of the future, respond to challenges, and prepare the stakeholders in the economy to benefit from these changes and opportunities. Set up by a group of pioneering industrialists led by Mr G D Birla, the Indian Chamber of Commerce was closely associated with the Indian Freedom Movement, as the first organized voice of indigenous Indian Industry. Several of the distinguished industry leaders in India, such as Mr B M Birla, Sir Ardeshir Dalal, Sir Badridas Goenka, Mr S P Jain, Lala Karam Chand Thapar, Mr Russi Mody, Mr Ashok Jain, Mr Sanjiv Goenka, have led the ICC as its President.
ICC is the only Chamber from India to win the first prize in World Chambers Competition in Quebec, Canada.
We organise over 200 summits and interactive sessions. Our efforts have primarily been at linking the business communities between India and South Asia, South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Alongside the regional economic integration initiatives, ICC is also trading into the Knowledge Highway to further growth and development activities in the country as “Shared Prosperity: Equal Opportunity for All” becomes the new motto of growth for the world as a whole.
What kind of projects do you run for your members?
– Policy Advocacy
– Business Information Service
– ICC Agri Business Initiative
– ICC Council of Arbitration
– ICC Young Leaders Forum
– The ICC North East Initiative
– ICC Convention Facilities
– ICC Startup Support Programme
What particular projects are you involved in the power sector?
Energy is one of the major drivers of a growing economy like India and is an essential building block of economic development.
The ICC has been working proactively on key issues impacting the energy sector through its various initiatives in the form of recommendation to the Ministry, publication of reports, creating various platforms (Summits) between government and industry body addressing important and relevant concerns.
The India Energy Summit is one of the prime initiatives of ICC in the Energy Sector. The IES that started nine years ago has today succeeded in achieving the recognition of being one of India’s Largest Energy Gatherings witnessing active participation of the most important dignitaries and organisations relevant to the sector from India and abroad. Active involvement and participation from the States like Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and others, have also remained a major focus area and key strength.
The Green Energy Summit has proved to be another major initiative of the ICC, which exclusively focuses upon the Indian RE (Renewable Energy) Sector. It succeeded in bringing together leading renewable company and utility leaders, government decision makers and investors to discover how the economic, financial and political framework for renewable is evolving, and to assess the implications of growing renewable deployment for the future shape of the energy industry. The ICC has already completed four editions of the Summit which witnessed extensive participation from the Indian RE along with widespread representation from countries like Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Belgium, Afghanistan, Ecuador, Iceland, Myanmar, Nepal, Iran, Kuwait, Germany, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa and many others.
Continuing with its endeavor towards development & progress of the Energy Sector, ICC has also formed a National Expert Committee on Energy with a view to contribute effectively towards growth of Indian Energy. This Committee is chaired by Mr Anil Razdan, Former Secretary, Ministry of Power, Govt. of India.
This is your third year hosting the official Indian pavilion at Future Energy Nigeria. How successful is this event for your exhibitors?
The primary objective of ICC is to connect over 1,800 C-level industry professionals across the full spectrum of the sector to address today’s challenges and implement tomorrow’s solutions. The exhibitors are happy to join this exhibition as it is giving them opportunities to promote their products/services in West Africa as well.
How interested is the Indian utility vendor and services market in the African sector? And West Africa in particular?
Indian utility vendor and services will found a huge market and scope in Africa especially West Africa in Energy Sector. With the latest World Bank loan, Nigeria is upgrading its T&D infra and solar projects, so this has brought a good interest to the Indian Utility Vendors and market.
What can visitors to this year’s Future Energy Nigeria expect when they visit the Indian Pavilion?
Visitors can interact & networking directly with Indian vendors who have specialised in Energy Sector. Visitor can see the products and services cover generation, transmission & distribution, metering, Renewable & New technology. Visitors can establish distribution channels.
What excites you about this industry?
Energy is one of the major drivers of a growing economy like India and is an essential building block of economic development. There is a strong two-way relationship between economic development and energy consumption. On one hand, growth of an economy, with its global competitiveness, hinges on the availability of cost-effective and environmentally benign energy sources, and on the other hand, the level of economic development has been observed to be reliant on the energy demand. Economic growth in India has largely been associated with increased energy consumption. Over past few years, climate change has become one of the main concerns driving energy policy. Since energy use is a major source of emissions, it is necessary to focus on the management of energy demand and supply as a means to abatement. Technological progress, energy efficiency programmes and structural changes contribute towards the variation in energy demand. Understanding the various components of energy demand is therefore important and necessary in order to deal with future emissions.
However, resource augmentation and growth in energy supply have failed to meet the ever-increasing demands exerted by the multiplying population, rapid urbanization and progressing economy. Thus serious energy shortages continue to plague India with key challenges like fuel secure, erratic gas supply, land acquisition & environment clearances, T&D losses, poor transmission and distribution infrastructure, unaccountability in metering and billing, cross subsidies, etc. For sustained economic growth, long-term availability of adequate energy at affordable cost is crucial. Meeting the energy challenge is therefore of fundamental importance to India’s economic growth imperatives and its efforts to raise its level of human development. Energy sector reforms, fuel issues, sector rejuvenation and plumbing the perceived faults in the critical financials of the sector are the government’s primary focus areas. Energy availability, access and affordability are necessary for meeting the country’s high economic growth expectations.
What in your view can Nigerians learn from the Indian utility sector?
Energy is one of the major drivers of a growing economy like India and Nigeria. I believe that Nigerians can follow the same as given India’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture, history of technology innovation and the vast domestic market, the country is ideally positioned to capitalise on the advantages that renewable energy has to offer. Although renewable energy technologies currently represent a fraction of the energy market in India, they have tremendous potential to undergo rapid growth and provide an alternative solution to fossil fuels.
Anything you would like to add?
I wish Future Energy Nigeria 2019 to be a great success and fruitful for both countries.