By Juliet Umeh
As Nigeria literally gropes in the dark due to poor electricity supply, the Lagos State government may have taken a step to affordable electricity.
This begins with its partnership with Eko Innovation centre on smart meter initiative.
The state, through its ministry of Energy and mineral resources, recently collaborated Eko Innovation Centre to improve access to reliable and affordable smart meters for the residents of Lagos.
In July, the state launched a programme tagged: “Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon 2020,” which challenged bright local talents to design and produce affordable smart electricity meters to help it tackle the over 60 per cent of Lagosians estimated to be unmetered due to unavailability and the high cost of meter acquisition in the country.
After the contest, the partners have also announced that winners emerged after a competitive pitch process which saw five finalists from both hardware and software categories respectively compete for the combined prize money.
Although Lagos state Government initially committed the sum of N7million to appreciate the winners’ for their efforts before progressing to commercialization, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Engr. Kola Balogun, Chairman, MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company Limited and Bunmi Akinyemiju, CEO, Venture Garden Group, all contributed N1 million each to raise the total prize money to N10 million. Chantelle Abdul, CEO MOJEC International also contributed N2 million for the runners-up.
However, two winners have been rewarded with N10 million. The winners were Team Power Bit Crunchers from the hardware category and Team Zeena Platform from the Software group.
Also, the winners and runners-up will also get working space at Eko Innovation Centre, while all 10 finalists will get mentorship opportunities, among other consolation prizes.
While unveiling the winners, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said: “Today is a true hallmark in our administration’s pursuit to improve the welfare of our people.
As you are aware, a key pillar of our administrations T.H.E.M.E.S agenda is to make Lagos a 21st-century economy and this Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon fits perfectly as it combines innovation, creativity and local capacity to deliver solutions that will improve access to electricity in Lagos.”
He said further that the settings, the mood and the aura at the ceremony “inspires creativity and innovation, and that he saw in the participants vibrant energetic youthfulness “that inspires hope of brighter and bigger roles that technology and digitization would play in the country.
He said Smart Meter Initiative “is another demonstration of promise kept” by his administration as “it aligns with the administrations’ T.H.E.M.E.S agenda to make Lagos a 21st-century economy,” and that the result of the initiative would drive local capacity that would find homegrown solutions to solve our challenges, which “is a great move in transforming the electricity sector in the state.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu promised that his administration would continue to support this initiative and that the outcomes of today’s programme has inspired his administration to do even more to drive local capacity and find homegrown solutions while taking advantage of global opportunities to solve our challenges.
“The young people in Lagos and Nigeria have proven to be hardworking and brilliant and we will do all we can to support them through our various ministries, agencies, enabling policies and incentives,” he stated.
He encouraged all participants, especially those that were not declared winners to never give up. “Everyone,” he said “is a winner, someone must just be declared winner to fulfill all righteousness.”
He urged them to continue to persevere and improve, as his administration, through mentorship and other incentives, “is always ready and elated to support and collaborate in creative and innovative ideas that would improve living standards and grow the economy.”
While making his remarks, the Deputy Governor, Dr Kadiri Obafemi Hamzat said that “The Lagos Smart Meter Programme is an important way for the Lagos government to demonstrate its commitment to improving access to reliable and affordable smart meters to increase the living conditions of our people.
Also, Advisory Board Member of Eko Innovation Centre, Doja Ekeruche, disclosed that curating the Hackathon is in line with the centre’s purpose of leveraging innovation and technology in solving poverty and other challenges in Africa.
She stated that the output of the Hackathon will contribute significantly to solving the challenges of the power sector, while also serving as an inspiration to local tech-talents in Nigeria to develop innovative solutions that will transform the future of Nigeria.
The convener of the Lagos Smart Meter Hackathon, the Honourable Commissioner for Energy & Mineral Resources, Lagos State, Mr. Olalere Odusote said that the Hackathon received two hundred and seventy-four (274) registrations: one hundred and twenty-seven (127) of which bid in hardware category, while one hundred and forty-seven (147) competed in software group. Impressively, sixty-five (65) hardware and software prototypes were submitted by applicants.
The shortlisted five finalists from hardware category were: Cosmo Automation, Smart Energy, Techwizard, Power Bit Crunchers and Gadozz Electricals, while the five software finalists were: Vectorians, Zeena Platform, Magnitronics Chosen Soft Tech and Gideon from Lagos, Enugu, Kaduna, Benin and Oyo State.
Speaking on the high points of their respective prototype designs, Team Zeena Platform stated that their smart meter software solution could fix tariffs and usage restrictions to guide electricity consumption by users.
“Administrators can control pricing, check working meters, energy consumption and perform oversight functions. Our database will run on blockchain technology and data security of users is assured.”
Power Bit Crunchers, winners in the hardware category team explained that their prototype smart meter can be monitored and controlled remotely, with additional tamper-proof functionalities which protects against bypass and other fraudulent activities.