Long before the unbundling of the power sector by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005, the power sector has been suffering from skills gap, especially those relevant to meeting the expectations of customers in the area of electricity management.
Spurred on by the desire to bridge this yawning gap, Vigoe Power Academy, floated by Vigeo Power Limited, the core investor in Benin Electricity Distribution Plc, and Elizade University formed an alliance to develop a framework of training experiences leading to the acquisition of engineering and professional know-how to bridge the skills gap in the power industry.
Through the alliance, BEDC has injected a crop of young, energetic and dynamic employees that are now conversant with the problems, challenges and prospects of the power industry.
According to a EU Project Co-ordinator, Prof. O. A. Oyelana, the partnership training is to foster innovative research collaboration, leading to the fabrication and production of light equipment and accessories that are essential for minor routine repairs within the existing power facilities and ultimately to jointly develop alternative renewable energy sources to boost the present level of power generation in the country.
Kunbi Labiyi, the Chief Corporate Services Officer and facilitator of the training partnership, said: “In line with best practices of great companies, the core investor, Vigeo Power Limited believes that the training of workforce in the industry would improve the performance of BEDC and ultimately build capacity in the newly growing power sector.
“This brought about the decision of the Board to establish a training academy to assist Benin Disco and indeed the power sector in reducing the existing knowledge gap and injecting young workforce into the industry.”
At the Memorandum of Understanding signing ceremony, the Managing Director/CEO of BEDC, Funke Osibodu, said: “Vigeo Power Limited believes that the training of the workforce in the industry would improve the performance of the company and ultimately build capacity in the newly growing power sector.”
During the on-the-job training, the graduate trainees were rotated across the various departments of BEDC to gather hands on experience, after which classroom training began.
The trainees received trainings in all aspects of power, covering electricity generation, transmission, distribution, repair and maintenance, billing and metering and customer care.
The graduation ceremony of the Vigeo Power Academy Programme/Elizade University graduate Trainee programme held last week Monday at the Best Western Hotel, Benin City, Edo State.
The 116 trainees, decked in safety kits, engaged in colourful procession and thrilled the audience with drills to the delight of guests, which included the founder of Elizade University, Chief Michael Ade Ojo; and the Chairman of Vigeo Power Limited, Victor Gbolade Osibodu.
Speaking on the occasion, Funke Osibodu said the trainee programme, the first ever in the electricity supply industry, was essentially a part of overall corporate strategy to be an industry leader, adding: “We are the first Disco to turn out a set of management trainees who are well rounded, knowledgeable and fit to lead the revolution required to achieve the core objective of the privatization programme of the Federal Government.”
Represented by the Executive Director, Commercial, Dr. Abu Ejoor, the MD averred that the GTP would provide competent trainees that would satisfy electricity customers’ yearnings in the area of service delivery and management of relationship with customers.
The Vice-Chancellor of Elizade University, Prof. Oloyede Adekunle, said the trainees consisted of three batches of graduates of Engineering, Accounts, Statistics and Mathematics, among others, and exhibited exemplary conduct during the duration of the training at the university campus in Ilara-Mokin.
Adekunle enthused that the training partnership with BEDC provided more visibility to the university, asking that the initiatives be extended to other Discos, with the university serving as venue for such training.