By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor
The problem of Nigerian power sector is increasingly becoming critical. At least, more than half of the country’s population has no access to the grid-connected electricity and those who are connected to the grid experience constant blackouts.
Majority of Nigerians rely on expensive diesel backup generators which costs the country an estimated $14 billion yearly.
Although the power sector is partly privatized, investments in the sector has failed to deliver the required bail-out, and Nigerians are groaning under epileptic power supply and unclean energy, when developed economies of the world are competing on the best source of clean energy to serve their people.
A recent report by theWorld Bank and Rural Electrification Agency (REA), said that over 90 million people living in Nigeria still lack access to grid electricity, which in itself represents 55% of the country’s population.
Going by the rising population and climate change, in a few years ahead, Nigeria is sure to experience an increase in energy demands. This means that players in the power sector will have to develop business models that ensure maximum operational benefits and also offer consumers clean and reliable power.
However, some technology experts say this development relies on variables like favorable policies and investment opportunities, even as it would be supported heavily by digital transformation.
Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business and fundamentally changes how to operate and deliver value to customers.
Digital solutions will disrupt the complexities of operational challenges in the power sector, produce rapid advances that will optimize assets performance, and create an overall favorable environment for other businesses to thrive and experience new opportunities for growth.
Current reports already show that investments in digital energy across the globe is growing at 20% rate annually, generating over $55 billion last year.
Alternative energy and technology expert, Engr Christian Madu, quoted a 2019 study by Energy Watch Group (EWG) and Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland, to say that renewable energy will be achievable in Nigeria by 2050.
He said the study highlights the value in initiatives that offer critical assets such as turbines, boilers, and smaller balance of plant systems that influence energy operation, adding that if this is to be the case, a quick glance at the power sector in Nigeria and its relationship with technology will uncover various opportunities that renewable energy can fulfill.
He said: “Part of the concern with this sector is in the observation that other markets operating within Nigeria are experiencing either a rapid or incremental growth phase, where the future of their operations looks promising.
“The unifying tool is digitalization. Digitalization manages the balance between time and workload from different production units; between price and consumption load, and fosters preventive rather than predictive methods. The sectors witnessing feasible growth in any economy are utilizing digitalization to drive operational efficiency and improve results” he added.
He argued that digital transformation is the key to delivering improved services to customers while ensuring that organizations operations are optimized to its maximum potential.
The power sector in Nigeria can leverage digitalization to challenge needless economic drain and become a source of development for the country.
The World Economic Forum estimates digital transformation in the power sector to be valued at $1.3 Trillion and able to boost profitability by 20-30%.
A recent report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed a slowdown in economy growth with only a 2.01% increase in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, Power sector players have also said that to use digital transformation to achieve economic transformation in the sector, there must be conscious effort to bring all stakeholders to a roundtable.
They believe that a deliberate conversation around digitization is highly needed to educate and support existing agendas to drive results.
Exhibition Director, Power Nigeria, Mr Deep Karani said that “when it comes to the power sector, a commendable platform for deliberate transformative conversations is the annual Power Nigeria Exhibition and Conference that holds in Lagos for utility, commercial, industrial and key end-users markets.
“Of all its many agendas, educating the public on the benefits and impacts of power and energy developments in Nigeria to establish connectivity within the sector is the most viral, sustainable strategy needed to revive the sector and the Nigerian economy by extension. The conference explores and informs about the latest power solutions such as the mini-grids, hybrid systems and utility scale energy. Every year, the Power Nigeria Agenda conference delivers free CPD content which proves invaluable in boosting business performances, educating residential or industrial consumers, and serve as a marketplace for solutions within the energy sector.
“We agree that digitalization is what will expand the power sector for revenue generation. But a discussion around it is key. It will be a major part of discussion in the next edition of the event, September 24-26 at the Landmark Centre Lagos”