FOR Tim Akano, Vice Chairman of Greenworldwater Africa, an indigenous firm with international affiliations concerned with investments in the power sector, the power situation in the country is a national embarrassment that Government alone can not resolve. This is borne out of his believe that investors and businessmen in the country should divest to the moribund sector in order to bring about the much needed change.
In this interview with Vanguard’s Yemie Adeoye he asserted that Nigeria is spending a whopping 13 billion dollars annually on diesel for electricity purpose alone and this could be invested in other demanding sectors of the Nigerian economy.
The Administration of President Goodluck Jonathan has unveiled its energy reform agenda to address the problem of epileptic power supply. How far do you think this present effort will go in addressing the energy problem, considering the disappointment that accompanied past efforts of the last two Administrations in the last 12 years?
Thanks for your question. First and foremost it must be noted that the Nigerian electricity problem- though complex and peculiar- is solvable. I strongly believe where there is a will there will be a way.
It is very glaring that President Jonathan and his deputy, Arc. Nnamdi Sabo both have demonstrated the political will necessary to solving the problem. Secondly, the caliber of people handling the energy reform and the depth of thinking that went into the production of the government blueprint- to a large extent will make this new effort to yield better results than the past efforts.
Thirdly, the best decision taking so far is the breaking of government monopoly on power generation and transmission. Very soon good money will start flowing into the country to help stabilise the power generation.
Having said this, the fastest way forward in solving the problem is to have a holistic approach. This was where the past Administrations failed. The electricity triangle consisting of generation, transmission and distribution must be fixed simultaneously if we are to move up from the present output of 3000MW to 40000MW in the next 10 years as envisioned by the President.
Besides, if more people will enjoy electricity we need a fresh thinking in solving the problem. Right now only 40 percent of Nigerians are connected to the national grid and up to $13billion is spent yearly on diesel generator supplying about 6000MW for this 40 percent connected to national grid with the concomitant high pollution to the nation which causes health hazard like high rate of infertility afflicting many married couples in Nigeria today.
From the generation point of view, we must come to terms with the fact that Nigeria’s electricity case is like that of a man suffering from multiple ailments and is in a state of coma. It needs multiple doctors to prevent the patient from dying.
As President Barack Obama said with regards to America: “to meet our grinding energy needs and prevent the worse consequences of climate change, we will need to increase our supply of nuclear power. It is that simple.’’ To this extent, all options of electricity generation must be employed like Hydro, solar, biomass, nuclear desalination plants, geothermal, coal and gas among others.
Depending on fossil fuel is like a drug addict’s need for heroin. The old habit is not only risky but also unhealthy and unsustainable yet almost impossible to break. Nigeria needs to make a deliberate transition from a carbon-based economy to one powered by new, clean energy technologies.
Over the years, our greatest undoing has been the over reliance on hydro and gas to power turbines. These are very vulnerable to weather and the carbon emission is appalling. Besides, the volatility of the Niger Delta makes the availability of gas when needed unpredictable. We urgently need alternative clean, cheaper and reliable source of electricity like nuclear desalination plants. As a matter of policy, I recommend that 40 percent of our electricity must come from alternative clean energy like desalination plants by year 2020.
To tackle the other twin problems of transmission and distribution which have been militating against effective energy management, we need what I call Intelligent Grid& Metering system. Again, I liken our situation to a family of fifteen living in a one room apartment, but sadly enough, half of the roof of the said one room is leaking profusely.
So when there is rain the whole family is in a mess. Or how else can you describe our current situation where the estimated technical loss is about 7 percent, none technical loss is about 27 percent and collection loss is about 23 percent? The government has not even estimated the amount of electricity loss to theft because they do not have the technology to detect this.
Electricity theft in Nigeria, I guess, will be in two digits percentage. But complex and worrisome as our situation may look like, there is hope- the green world water technology can help Nigeria overcome all these challenges within the shortest possible time frame. All we need is a paradigm shift from manual electricity management to a technologically driven electricity system, i.e. energy that is managed with a view to optimising its generation, delivery and quality.
Energy that interacts with grid-aware devices and support advanced communication solutions, demand response, Home Area Network (HAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) Applications to mange consumption.
We need new distribution architecture and metering system that can manage the health of other assets on the wire and offers advanced profiling, theft and outage detection, dynamic pricing, alternative energy buy-back and ultimately – a consumer-to-consumer energy commerce.
The intelligent grid that will solve Nigeria’s electricity distribution problem will harmonise the five critical success factors: smart metering, grid infrastructure, demand response, home energy management and energy storage.
Whereas the conventional meters are read manually and infrequently, the new system we are bringing to Nigeria will allow meters to be read remotely and almost in real time thereby lowering cost for the utilities, giving more accurate accounts bills to the customers and at the same time empower the customer to monitor their own energy consumption and giving customers more insight into their energy usage which it is hoped will help reduce wastages.
The new technology will also allow for a differential pricing regime. For instance, energy may attract higher pricing from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00.p.m while none peak period from 6.00p.m throughout the night will attract a lower pricing regime
Some analysts have argued against wholesale handing over of the strategic power industry to foreigners. What is your take on this?
As we all know the world is now one global village- no more boundaries- economically speaking. Money, like a river, flows where it will attract highest return. There is no danger in asking foreigners to come and invest in Nigeria power sector.
Once they do the Math and discover the numbers add up they will bring their money. This is what happened in the telecoms. Meanwhile, it is only in power generation that government is seeking so much help. When it comes to distribution, government will still retain substantial control for strategic reasons for a while. In the ultimate analysis, the entire electricity triangle will be market-driven for optimum result.
The 50,000 former staff of PHCN who will be relieved of their duties as a result of the reform agenda will swell the unemployment market in Nigeria which is already at a boiling point. What is your view on addressing this fallout?
I do not subscribe to the notion that the energy reform will make people jobless. Rather the energy reform as is being implemented will create millions of new jobs and old staff that are willing to upgrade their skill-set will also get something new and more exciting to do in the new game.
Take for instance, the entrance of our company (Green World Water Africa- GWWA) into the Nigerian market, we propose to create about a million jobs from the construction of nine desalination plants and energy neutral homes in Nigeria once we finalise our partnership agreement with the government.
These jobs will be in engineering, operations, supply chain, and more importantly, the auxiliary jobs like masons, welding, technicians, drivers, food vendors, granite sellers, cement and sound sellers among others. We are talking about a new economy evolving from the ashes of the old PHCN.
Can you expantiate more on the activities of Green World Water Africa in the new energy game?
Green World Water Africa is a subsidiary of a USA based company, Green World Water Inc. The parent company is called Alternative Energy Holding Inc. (AEHI) which is a public quoted company in the USA. It is the first independent nuclear company seeking to build nuclear plants in none nuclear States.
Our company in partnership with China National Nuclear Company ( the biggest State owned nuclear company in China) plan to build nine desalination plants using nuclear technologies and energy neutral homes to generate about 11,000 MW of electricity to the national grid in about five years.
The beauty of our technology is that we are combining the best of American technology with the efficiency of Chinese production plant to bring water and electricity to Nigeria at the cheapest price. It is the only desalination that pays for itself.