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Exclusive interview out of Nigeria

In conversation with executives shaping the industry and leading by example, ESI Africa speaks with Eng. Amoda, who has been at the helm of EKEDP, one of Nigeria’s distribution companies, since 2011.

How do you see the power and energy landscape changing over the next five years?

Energy is unarguably one of the major challenges the world faces today, touching all aspects of our lives. Production of electricity is causing serious environmental challenges in terms of the resultant greenhouse gases, while there are avoidable wastages during its utilisation.

Over time, the world’s leaders realised these challenges and are now channelling global resources toward renewable energy technologies, which are considered environmentally friendly and sustainable.

In 2012, renewable resources were as much as 13.2% of total energy produced worldwide and increased to 22% in 2013. Invariably, in the next five years, I foresee a lot of investment into the development of renewables resulting from the technologies becoming cheaper to acquire. Renewable sources of electricity production might take as much as 30-35% of world electricity generation.

With renewables becoming cheaper, many communities will have access to electricity, as off-grid or mini-grid systems are promoted ahead of the grid connected systems. Also, many developing economies will pursue demand-side management and energy efficiency programmes since this is the only way for them to defer investment on capacity increase.

What would you consider the highlights of your organisation in 2016? What are you most proud of?

Part of the performance agreement signed by the Discos, when the power sector was privatised in Nigeria about three years ago, was the gradual reduction of Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses within five years. This depended partly on metering, which enhances energy audit and accounting, and fairness in customers’ billing. As such, EKEDP put a robust metering plan in place and proposed to spend $250 million on metering alone. However, volatility in foreign exchange has slowed down deployment of this project. We also have an ambitious programme for network development and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure. In terms of securing capacity, EKEDP has various memoranda of understanding (MOU) on embedded power generation with several private companies for 470MW and the company has commenced to purchase excess power from two companies for a total of 160MW.

Towards the end of 2016, we signed a contract with Huawei Nig. Ltd to supply and install 100,000 units of single- and three-phase meters on a project finance basis. We had earlier signed another supply of 100,000 meters with MOJEC International Ltd, an indigenous meter manufacturer based in Lagos. These constitute some of the major highlights of EKEDP’s activities during 2016.

Let’s talk about current projects that you are excited about, and why

For ease of management of energy allocation from the grid, Eko Electricity Distribution Plc has three Circles, comprised of East, West and Central regions, within our domain. The East Circle is the ‘bread basket’ of the company but energy allocation to it was constrained due to capacity limitation of one of the transmission stations serving us, a 132/33kV transmission sub-station. Recently, the station was upgraded to a 330/132/33kV station.

This increased the capacity of the station and with more energy now available for distribution to our esteemed customers in Ikoyi and Victoria Island of Lagos, our business will become more stable. Also, there are several 33/11kV injection sub-stations that we are currently executing at Oke-Ira Ajah, Bourdillon in Ikoyi and Stadium in Yaba/Surulere areas amongst others.

The excitement will be our ability to increase hours of power availability to our esteemed customers in these areas and its attendant increase in revenue and reduction of both technical and nontechnical losses.

What are the investment opportunities in the country that developers and financiers will find particularly interesting?
Metering, the soul of the business, is still the major problem of all the privatised Discos. This is why the demand for meter products is considerable. Local manufacturers and assembling plants are finding it difficult to meet up with the large quantity needed by the Discos. Therefore, investors could explore the opportunities created by the gaps and establish industries for meter manufacturing and/or accessories. There is decidedly opportunity for distribution materials and equipment manufacturing such as cables, transformers, switchgear, insulators, poles etc.

Nigeria with a population of about 180 million has a grid that can wheel about 7,500MW. This is grossly inadequate for the country. This is forcing the sector to diversify: opening the market to viable investment into the power industry will increase grid capacity through micro-grid and embedded power generation solutions. Investors could come to avail their companies of numerous opportunities in renewable energy development, which is gaining surging acceptability. With favourable regulations and tariffs, return on investment will be very encouraging.

In your view, what changes can be implemented (or are currently being implemented) that will improve regional development and cooperation?

Presently, most of the regional power pools are in place but not effective. I would want to see more activities in the inter-connection of regional grids in order to have robust cross border electricity trading and promotion of regional cooperation in power projects and development (particularly around generation and transmission infrastructure development). Cooperation, strengthening and interconnection of regional power pools such as the West African Power Pool (WAPP), the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) and other regional power pools must be improved for the continent to realise an increase in access to electricity, especially for our rural communities.

What surprises you about the energy and electricity industry?

Electricity utilisation and production have evolved over time. There is shift from high carbon to lower carbon generation, technology for storage has improved, competitive markets have been established and inter-boundary trading is now under consideration.

The global electricity market is now characterised by new players, technologies and more utility-customer interactions. Private investors are now big players in the industry. All these put together are major surprises in the evolution of the electricity industry, which is proving a concrete platform for much-needed development in Nigeria and the continent.

Eng. Amoda, it has been a pleasure speaking with you. As a parting word, please share your vision for this sector. To achieve sustainable access to electricity for all in the region and at an affordable cost – the spin-off being the ultimate goal of social and economic development.

Babalwa Bungane
Babalwa Bungane is the content producer for ESI Africa - Clarion Events Africa. Babalwa has been writing for the publication for over five years. She also contributes to sister publications; Smart Energy International and Power Engineering International. Babalwa is a social media enthusiast.