Karani: Energy Access Gap in Nigeria Frightening

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Deep Karani, is the Exhibition Director for Power Nigeria, West Africa’s power and renewable energy trade exhibition. In this interview with Peter Uzoho, ahead of the eighth edition of Power Nigeria Conference commencing today in Lagos, he speaks about challenges of Nigeria with respect to energy accessibility, what participants should expect at the conference, among others issues. Excerpts:

What do you see as the major challenge confronting Nigeria?

The main issue Nigeria is facing is the rapidly increasing population which clearly results in much higher demand of energy needs. Infrastructural investments, regulatory and policy limitations are a major challenge hampering growth of the power sector. Considering how large the Nigerian economy is, it is imperative to invest in energy infrastructure. As modern as we have become today, there are still many people across the country who are forced to use outdated power systems that aren’t as efficient as we would like them to be.

While there are off-grid sustainable solutions available, Nigeria also needs good governance; proper regulations and policies that need to be set and enforced for the sector to experience growth. Multiple government organisations are tirelessly working towards achieving higher energy efficiency and encouraging change in regulations, however the lack of consistency and clarity makes it difficult for developers to invest in the country

As an expert in the power sector, what progressive trends have you seen that Nigeria needs to urgently adopt?

Industry sources indicate that the country will need an additional 26.6 GW generation capacity to meet demands through 2020. This will comprise 30 per cent capacity from coal, about 2,200 MW from the NIPP projects (1,896 MW), IPPs (296 MW) and FGN legacy assets [installed – Thermals 5.6 GW, Hydro 1.3 GW and Wind {pilot} 10MW]. In addition, the government of Nigeria is also investing heavily to boost generation through the large, medium and small hydrostatic power plants with total capacity of over 6,024 MW. Despite the various challenges in Nigeria’s power sector today, the decision of the government of Nigeria to privatise the sector provides multiple opportunities for international and local investment.

What are your predictions for the power and energy sector in Nigeria within the next 10 years?

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy, and it also has one of the widest energy gaps in the world. With a rapid growth in population and escalating energy demand, it is paramount for Nigeria to improve its power sector. The country’s current installed capacity is reported at 12,500 megawatts, but in practice it is only 3,200 megawatts. The government’s aim to boost electricity access to 90 per cent by 2030 will drive even more demand. Credible sources have stated that in order to achieve universal access to electricity, Nigeria will have to connect between 500,000 to 800,000 new households to electricity every year between 2018 and 2030.

Both grid extension and off-grid solutions will be needed to provide quality services to the unserved and underserved households and businesses in a timely manner.
My personal prediction is that renewables will play a very important role in Nigeria’s power generation model. It is only a matter of time before we see more clarity in policy & regulations. However, given the size of the market, Nigeria will continue to be a strong energy market in the next 10 years.

What are Informa’s future plans for Nigeria in the coming years?

Informa has embarked on a long-term journey in Nigeria with a hope to expand heavily in the region. Our plan moving forward is to diversify from the electricity niche and add more parallel sectors to the show, which is why we have made the decision this year to rebrand to Nigeria Energy from 2020 onwards, in where we plan to fully incorporate all aspects of energy, not confining to only conventional power generation, transmission & distribution. We aspire to bring together more international companies with newer technologies to the show from 2020 onwards, and will be promoting the Nigerian energy event through our plethora of events across the EMEA region.

The Power Nigeria Exhibition and Conference is currently in its eighth year, what does this year’s agenda entail?

As organisers, we are very excited about the exhibition and conference. This year, the exhibition is supported by renowned industry brands such as Skipper Seil, Cummins, Eaton, Caterpillar-Mantrac, Jubaili Bros, Total, Lucy Electric, Phillips, Kirloskar, and many more who will be joining us on the show floor to display their latest product lines. We are also looking forward to welcoming key colleagues from AfBD, Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Power Sector), Dangote Industries, Central Bank of Nigeria and many more, who will be presenting technical papers highlighting critical topics at the conference. The conference is CPD certified and focuses on key themes broadly ranging between Finance, Technology and Procurement.

In the past few weeks, we’ve received hundreds of registrations from industry professionals who have confirmed their attendance for the event and as organisers, we are very excited to welcome them to the exhibition and conference.

How do you select speakers and exhibitors for Power Nigeria Conference?

Each year, we urge state ministries, regulatory authorities and policy makers to speak about subjects that are most important in the year, educating attending industry professionals about latest developments & future plans in the Nigerian energy sector.
Going beyond governments, we also provide a platform for developers, consultants and system integrators who present technical papers on best practices in energy management.

Adding to the selection, we invite a few case studies from key manufacturers or innovators who can speak about latest systems and technologies available from which the country could benefit. On the whole, our objective is to bring together a good mix of international and local industry pioneers who are qualified and have the experience which can help young engineers learn from. Attendance to these presentations activate CPD points for electrical engineers.

How would you assess the impact of Power Nigeria Conference over the years it has been taking place?

Power Nigeria has organically grown to becoming West Africa’s largest power exhibition and hosts a wide variety of electrical and renewable energy products on display annually. Through our platform, we aspire to create value for all participating and attending stakeholders who have a vested interest in the growth of West Africa’s energy sector, particularly in Nigeria. We are fortunate enough to be backed by Informa, the largest exhibition management company in the world, which also hosts energy events across the globe. Connected to thousands of energy professionals worldwide, we are able to bridge the gap between international investors, developers, manufacturers by linking them with regional consultants, contractors, system integrators and end users.

Specifically, what contribution would you say the conference has had on the Nigerian power sector?
Our ultimate objective is to build Power Nigeria into the largest technology sourcing, knowledge sharing and networking platform connecting local and international companies, assisting them to explore business opportunities, in turn driving growth into future investment opportunities for West Africa. Power Nigeria today is seen as one of the strongest networking arenas for the energy sector in Nigeria, involving various colleagues across multiple cities who attend the exhibition & conference to learn, network & explore business opportunities.

How are participants able to earn the Continuing Professional Development (CDP) certification from attending the conference?

We offer free CPD points across all our energy events in the Middle East and Africa. Visitors who register and attend the conference are further guided by our helpful staff onsite who will verify their attendance by simply scanning their badges to send their contact details to the CPD certification body in the UK who then provide the certificate of attendance and allocate the relevant points.

Automation, Green Buildings & Sustainability.