Exclusive interview with Mr Rakesh Sardana, Managing Director – Skipper Nigeria Limited, the returning main sponsor of the upcoming Future Energy Nigeria conference and exhibition in Lagos from 12-13 November 2019.
Let’s start with some background on Skipper’s presence in Nigeria and the region?
Skipper has been a strong contributor to Nigeria’s power sector as a manufacturer, EPC contractor, operation & maintenance and service provider. With vast natural resources and a steadily growing economy, Nigeria continues to present a huge opportunity for us and we feel fortunate to have recognized this opportunity much earlier on than our competition when we entered the country 19 years ago. We are excited to be a part of Nigeria’s infrastructure growth story and our plans are in place for exponential growth over the next decade.
Our growth strategy for Nigeria involves partnering with public and private stakeholders to develop the end to end value chain of power, from generation to transmission to distribution and value-added services. Skipper has made its presence known over the years because of an ever-growing portfolio of projects with the various state governments of Nigeria. While we continue to enjoy a steady pipeline of projects for the public sector, a steady interest from the private sector in Nigeria has led us to pursue projects and product sales with private players aggressively.
Speaking geographically, over the last 10 years, we have been expanding rapidly across Nigeria, with our clients and projects spread across most of the Nigerian States. Our staff strength, especially the locals, has also been increasing incrementally every year and we look forward to the same trend in the future.
What are the current trends within the Nigerian power industry, and what are you doing to capitalise on them?
Skipper strongly believes that for the on-going reforms in the Nigerian power sector to be enduring, attention must be shifted to effective maintenance and service of existing infrastructure. We often hear that Nigeria does not have sufficient equipment in the sector which results in epileptic power supply, but we firmly believe that the sufficient capacity is present but optimal use of equipment remains a problem. Additionally, most equipment lies idle due to lack of maintenance and service, which is also compounding the problem in the sector and adding to power wastage. So, we are of the opinion that maintaining our equipment and bring them back to operation is a better approach to solving power shortage problems in Nigeria instead of buying new ones.
Skipper plans to capitalise on this major opportunity to bring non-performing power assets back to the system to perform, and bring about tremendous improvement in the power supply. One of the biggest contributions of the company to the Nigerian power sector has been through its investment in the state-of-the-art maintenance and service facility in Ikorodu, Lagos. The one-of-a-kind facility is the largest in West Africa and is known for its transformer, hydro & gas turbine, motor and generator repair service widely across Africa.
The success and rapid growth of our service division is testimony to the immense demand for the maintenance of power equipment in Nigeria. Our marketing till date about this division has mainly been through word-of-mouth and industry recognition by our ex-clients, but since we recognize the high potential of this segment, we aim to aggressively market our maintenance and service offerings.
Do you currently have any products that are in greater demand than others? If so, what is the reason behind the demand?
Skipper products have become a name to reckon with in industry circles because of our quality excellence and excellent technical support. We are continuously innovating and upgrading our products and solutions. The products being displayed by us are state-of-the-art and are upgraded through our continuous research & development exercise with the objective of making them more dependable, energy-efficient and environmently-friendly. Skipper Metering panels are popular as Skipper Panel meters in Nigeria are always in demand for its quality.
While we have witnessed great demand for almost all products across our portfolio, we have seen a spike in orders for our power transformers in DISCOs & State governments and smart products, such as Energy Management solutions, Package Substation, energy efficient transformers, circuit breakers & RMUs etc. over the last couple of years. This shows that the Nigerian power industry is ready for the next phase of development and Skipper is happy to be an ally to this growth story.
How important do you think events like Future Energy Nigeria are to the local industry?
Future Energy Nigeria finds its place as one of our key marketing events for the year and we are proud to partner with the event. The event is one of the strongest events in the West African region and brings together all power players of Nigeria in one place. More importantly, an event like Future Energy Nigeria plays a strategic role in enhancing the business potential of the local industry and increases their exposure to key stakeholders under one roof that they would not otherwise be able to interact with conveniently.
Like last year, we are confident that we will generate healthy business by connecting with influential industry decision-makers as well as key suppliers and service providers. We look forward to presenting our innovative differentiated power solutions at the exhibition.