Exclusive interview with Robert Dickerman, MD & CEO, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company. He will deliver the industry address at the upcoming West African Power Industry Convention (WAPIC). Dickerman will be introducing the panel discussion: “The Good, the Bad & the Future: Voices from the Private Sector.”
What in your view are the main challenges still in this sector?
NESI, the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, has been in a state of almost constant change and financial crisis since privatisation. One cause of this challenge is a timing mismatch between privatisation expectations and realities.
The rules of TEM as declared by NERC require discos to remit 100% of their energy and capacity payments upstream, but the industry has not yet solved the puzzle of how to collect anywhere close to 100% of the energy billed to customers.
What would you say has been the most gratifying/exciting aspect of your work during the last year? Any specific projects that you are involved in currently that you want to share?
Even on difficult days, being involved in transformation of an enterprise is exciting work. This is a long term process, but it begins by capturing the hearts and minds of staff, customers and external stakeholders.
We must identify issues and form practical solutions in an environment that is severely constrained. This can be tough work, but it keeps the blood flowing and forces all of us to perform at our best.
What is your vision for the industry?
The power industry is the core infrastructure of any economy, and Nigeria is a classic example. Fixing power availability, reliability and quality will provide the basis for new investment in businesses and jobs and will create a new, diversified revenue base for the economy.
However, we are in a position where the need is so great that we must learn to depend on foreign investors, both equity and debt, to support our growth in return for safe return of capital and fair play.
During WAPIC this year you are delivering the “state of the industry” address during the very dynamic panel from the private sector at WAPIC, “The Good, the Bad & the Future: Voices from the Private Sector” – can you give us a sneak preview of your message?
I plan to clarify the economic underpinnings of our need for energy solutions and offer some suggestions on how this country, with strong support from the Federal Government, can overcome global perceptions of sovereign risk and make Nigeria the premier destination for energy capital investment in the world.
We already have the largest potential load growth.
What do you expect from this panel discussion?
I expect a vigorous, intelligent discussion of topical issues in Nigeria’s energy space.
What advice would you give a prospective investor in the Nigerian power sector?
Under our new President, with his strong personal belief in integrity, Nigeria is changing. It is time to believe in the change and explore Public Private Partnerships.
Nigeria is open for business. Our need for energy supply and infrastructure solutions in gas fuel, gas infrastructure, coal fuel, LNG regas, transmission capacity and distribution capacity is unmatched.
How important is WAPIC on the utility meeting calendar in West Africa?
Most consider WAPIC to be the premier utility conference in Africa. It is an event.
Anything else you would like to add?
I look forward to informal meetings at this year’s conference to share thoughts and solutions with colleagues and companies I have yet to meet.