A boat ride to Egbin Power Plc, one of Africa’s biggest power stations and an affiliate of Sahara Group, flagged off the tour of the power operations of the energy conglomerate in Lagos, Nigeria by 20 Harvard Kennedy School graduates on August 9, 2017.
Led by Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji, the graduates, from the 2017 Masters in Public Policy Class, learned about how continuing investments in technology, human capital, overhauls and upgrades were driving the unfolding transformation the power plant, which is responsible for 25 per cent of power generated in Nigeria.
An elated Arohi Sharma, the team’s Student Government President 2016-2017, said: “It is quite exciting and amazing to see the remarkable work that is going on at the power plant. This is my first time in a facility like this and I am personally looking forward to the emergence of a vibrant power sector in Africa with institutions like Egbin Power playing important roles in this regard.”
Following the nation’s privatization exercise, Sahara, through its power division, Sahara Power Group, and sundry affiliations acquired the 1320MW installed capacity Egbin Power Plant, Ikeja Electric Plc and generation assets at First Independent Power Limited in Rivers State.
In total, Sahara Power Group currently operates power generation facilities with a total of approximately 1,750MW of available capacity and working towards deploying a minimum of 5,000MW of electricity generation over the next five years.
Tonye Cole, the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Sahara Group, told the delegates that the privatization of the sector was a critical step Nigeria had to take in its pursuit for a reliable and sustainable power sector.
Cole said: “What we now need are policies that will drive and sustain productivity across the value chain of generation, transmission and distribution. We have been pioneering advocacy efforts to this end and given the commitment of the current administration through the Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola, as well as the collaboration of all stakeholders in the sector; we believe that we can look forward to a brighter future for the power sector.”
Cole explained that adopting the right policies would encourage continuing and new investments; address the need for cost reflective pricing of electricity; improve customer experience; promote alternative energy and off-grid solutions; and, ultimately, position the sector for enhanced efficiency.
He described power supply as a subject that requires global collaboration by different stakeholders, given its impact on sustainable development.
He said sundry smart power solutions can be explored and deployed to serve rural communities and boost power generation and supply across Africa.
Cole said: “At Sahara, we believe that the world needs a cohesive platform to address power challenges as across the globe in order promote peace, economic growth and development. In Africa where the need is quite dire, I believe we can deliver power to more people and businesses with collaborative interventions led by the private sector, power firms, multilateral institutions and the governments that determine policy.”
Speaking on ongoing efforts to diversify the economy, Cole said the bedrock of sustainable growth can only be achieved through multiple streams of income.
He urged the delegates to pursue the adoption of destination specific research activities that will throw up appropriate business models that will thrive across diverse markets.
He said: “With a better understanding of the interesting and peculiar business environment that exists within Africa, we will generate business models that can attract more direct foreign investments. Nigeria, one of the continent’s leading nations, is a universal boot camp for any business idea. If it succeeds in Nigeria, it can succeed anywhere.”
Akerele-Ogunsiji said the trip to Lagos was part of team’s Inaugural Public Sector Leadership and Innovation Field Visit aimed at enabling the delegates learn more about Lagos State’s policies, competitiveness and Smart City Plan.