The World of Kola Adesina at 55

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For the Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group, Kola Adesina, life and the enriching ideas he brings to it, come from his definition of existence. At 55, this man of many parts possess respectable pedigree and reputable circle of friends, writes Ferdinand Ekechukwu

Many great men are imbued with traits reflective of their words which inspire and posture their true being. This, perhaps, coming from a place of their existential and philosophical believes and drives. For the Group Managing Director Sahara Power Group, Kola Adesina, who clocked 55 last Monday, life and the ideas he brings to it, come by his world view of life. In his words, “I read, I think, I imagine, I write, I engage and do all of these again and again until the refined idea pops up and takes a life of its own. Sometimes, it can be the Eureka moment when something hits you, and it becomes a winning idea you can run with.”

He tells you that nothing is impossible if you believe. As a businessman, Adesina repeatedly reaches out overtime and maintains that everyone else does so, to keep relationship. “Relationship management is very crucial. Reach out to everyone; the janitor, driver, chef, legislator, etc. you never can tell where the aces would fall and who would lead you in the direction of your breakthrough.”

Hence, his respectable pedigree and circle of friends is not surprising. Interestingly, on the occasion of his 55 birthday, the energy magnate attracted heartfelt messages from friends and allies, among who is billionaire businessman Femi Otedola.

Celebrating Adesina, Mr. Otedola in an Instagram post on Monday called Adesina his ‘brother and friend’. “To my brother and friend Kola Adesina, I say a happy birthday to you. At 55, God has been faithful to you, indeed. You are a man with a good heart, spreading the gospel of a better Nigeria using energy and harnessing the best of our youths. A man of peace, enjoy your day bro. When you return to Nigeria, please share #Gelato and toast to a new year,” Otedola said.

As a highflying director at the international energy and infrastructure conglomerate with operations across Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia, the job of running the affairs of the corporation is enormous; but Adesina never experiences typical days. Everyday throws up new challenges and opportunities that can change the course of his day. He can start his day in one part of the world and end up at another: “I meet each disruption with a mindset that is already primed to turn it into something very productive. This is what drives us at Sahara Group,” he said.

As a productive entrepreneur, he sees resilience in the face of failure and never sees failure as the final word. He believes it is just an event that can be changed when one learns from previous pitfalls. “So, I never say ‘never’. I am always ready to pick up myself after a setback and pursue the next target with even more vigour and doggedness. I am never afraid to take risks. Every risk has the potential to make or mar the business. By not taking risks, you remain on the borderline. So, sometimes, the risk can be a pointer to how big the outcome can be. We go a step further to subject the risk to various scenarios before proceeding.”

As one with experience that traverses various fields of human endeavours, it excites him to flow with the trend: “As continuous learning, the world is evolving every day, and we all have to keep up with the speed of technology.” That drives Adesina, as ultimately, everything ends up in the realm of technology. He deploys a piece of software in the category of a cloud-based app which he started using a few years ago to drive his time. “There is a cloud-based app that I started using a few years ago. It is a basic calendar with reminders. I like using it because it automatically synchronizes all of the events from my e-mail.”

To Adesina, nothing is too big to overcome, if you put your mind to it: “All you need is to take another look at the challenge and ask yourself, how would it feel to be credited with the laurel of being the one who solved this riddle?”

The Sahara Power boss explains that first, you will be able to enjoy passive income, if you make good choices. One of such choices being the best $100 he recently spent buying books. “I bought some books that opened my eyes to some strategies I had been looking to deploy over a long period.”

He recommends Deep Work by Cal Newport to business- minded folks for reading. Why? It teaches people how to minimise distractions and retain optimal performance levels for longer periods. His favourite nugget is: “success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” Adesina adds: “I like this quote because it explains why people should avoid quantifying their achievements . . . Being focused and working hard generally lead to success.”

A man of many parts, Kola is a consummate entrepreneur with experience that traverses the academia, finance, energy, trade and diplomacy. He currently leads the vision of Sahara Power Group aimed at bringing energy to life by deploying diversified power sources to light up lives and businesses in Nigeria and across Africa.

Sahara Power Group’s affiliates include Ikeja Electric, the largest privately owned power distribution business in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), Egbin Power Plc – the largest privately run thermal power plant in SSA and First Independent Power Limited. Adesina chairs the Board of Ikeja Electric.

He has had a highly diversified professional background. At Sahara Group, he directed many initiatives, including nation-wide strategic management of the supply chain of fuel to the Emergency Power Plant of the defunct National Electricity Power Authority, led the Majestic Oil delegation on the acquisition of the Sierra Leone Refinery, managed the crude oil contract of the Group in Cote D’Ivoire, became the Director of Infrastructure, responsible for the acquisition of strategic assets in Africa.

Adesina also served as a member of the Presidential Committee on the Accelerated Expansion of the Electricity Infrastructure in Nigeria, which culminated in the unbundling of PHCN successor companies. He combines his years of management and business diplomacy experience into creating and executing innovative strategies for governments across sub Saharan Africa in the energy sector. This man is a sought after resource person on energy-related issues, especially the power sector in Africa and a frontline speaker at conferences across the globe.

Adesina is passionate about empowering young people and takes great pride in mentoring youths to seek creative ways of galvanising their energies for sustained excellence and productivity. He is a pan-Africanist and avowed promoter of the Pan African dream of regional integration and trade.