Sahara Group: Spearheading Power Sector’s Environmental Sustainability

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Eromosele Abiodun

The cool morning breeze swept across the jetty as some Sahara Group employees, media practitioners and special guests disembarked from the boat. It had been a smooth 25-minute boat ride from the Lekki Jetty to Egbin Power Plc, the largest privately run thermal power plant in Sub Saharan Africa. It was going to be a rendezvous with history as Egbin Power, a member of energy conglomerate, Sahara Group looked to make a bold move towards reducing carbon emission at the facility, by introducing electric buggies and bicycles.

Joel Obuge, a Saharian – a term that refers to each of Sahara Group’s over 4,000 employees across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East – couldn’t wait to jump on one of the bicycles. It had been ages since he last rode one. He cycled up the path to the office area vehemently, hoping to shed some pounds he had gained following months of working remotely.

Egbin Power plant, which sits on 600 hectares of land is one of the most iconic national assets in Nigeria. Established in 1985, the plant would receive a breath of fresh air following privatisation that made Sahara Group the new core investor.

Continuing investment and overhauls of ageing units at the plant have since paved the way for Egbin Power to rebound after decades of operational hiccups. Post privatisation, Egbin in 2015 hit the 1,000MW power generation mark, for the first time in 8 years prior. “Egbin has its sights on further investment of about $40 million to overhaul its two units,” said Chairman Egbin Power, Temitope Shonubi, while reiterating the firm’s commitment to “powering prosperity” through top quality power generation. Egbin has six units of 220mw turbines that give the plant its installed capacity of 1320mw. There are ongoing plans aimed at increasing this capacity through a mix of strategies that include alternative energy sources.

Back to the special event of the day. The evergreen refrain, “It’s electric, boogie, woogie woogie” from the timeless hit “Eletric Boogie” by Marcia Griffiths, set the tone for the launch of the new electric transport system at the facility. This new mobility plan is one of the steps taken by Sahara Group to ensure employees live healthy, while the envronment remains sustainable to drive business continuity, productivity and overall well-being of employees and the host community.

Speaking at the event, Shonubi said pursuing zero carbon emission, creating and promoting a paradigm shift for environmental sustainability remain at the heart of Sahara Group’s Quality, Health Safety and Environmental policy. Consequently, Sahara, through Egbin is taking a big leap into the future through its sustainability progammes.

“For us at the Sahara Group, we realise that while we live in the present, we must prepare for the future, with the capacity to face unfolding challenges and opportunities. We want to begin to plan for the future. We will ultimately have 20 electric buggies and 500 bicycles to promote going electric and clean energy in Egbin,” Shonubi, who is also Executive Director at Sahara Group, stated.

A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year and this is equivalent to an average of 0.0126 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per day. Every walk-to-work and bike-to-work activity as well as riding on the electric buggies within the facility prevents emission of 3.78 metric tonnes per day of carbon dioxide from about 150 cars within Egbin and 1379.7 metric tons every year.

Students of Powerfields School which operates within the confines of the power facility were also part of the event. This was to demonstrate the fact that the “going electric” and “clean energy” campaign involved all constituents of the Egbin Ecosystem and generational in its outlook.

“The project also reinforces Sahara Power and Egbin’s commitment as global SDG promoters, with impressive Environment Employee Social and Governance (EESG) records,” added Kola Adesina, Group Managing Director, Sahara Power Group.

Adesina said Sahara Group hoped the project would inspire a paradigm shift in Africa as the world conitinues its quest for zero carbon emission.

“It is beyond the environment, it is about the people and birthing a substainable future. The environment to us is not just about the physical environment, the people make up the environment. In today’s world, it is all about sustainability and to ensure we prepare for the future from the present. As always, Sahara Group is delighted to promote conversations and support initiatives that will give our world the best shot at a achieving a sustainable future,” he stated.

The themes driving the project include: Power to Protect; Power to Serve; Power to Live; and Power to Innovate.

The SDGs covered by the project include: SDG 3: Good health, SDG 7: Renewable energy, SDG 9: Innovation and Infrastructure, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 13: Climate Action, SDG 14: Life Below Water, SDG 15: Life on Land and SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals.

As Joel pedaled back to the jetty, he had only one thing on his mind. “The world should do this often, nurturing a sustainable environment is how we deliver the future untainted,” he said.