'Light Up Edo' campaign and need to patronise local manufacturers

2024-05-05 19:14:44

Nigerian Observer

"Empower Edo: Igniting Growth through Reliable Energy" was the theme of a two-day workshop to showcase the state's plans to become a major player in the electricity market.

The workshop was organised by the Edo State Investment Promotion Office (ESIPO), in collaboration with MDAs, including Ministries of Mines and Energy, Justice, Business, Trade and Cooperative, and Edo State Electricity Regulatory Commission. The workshop was supported by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ-SEDIN) as well as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The idea was to provide a forum for both the private and public sectors to discuss strategies for ensuring reliable energy access for businesses in the state.

There is no doubt about the importance of energy to any economy. It was against this backdrop that the Chairman of Edo State Ease of Doing Business Council and Commissioner for Finance, Mrs Adaze Aguele-Kalu, stressed that one of the critical requirements for businesses to thrive is reliable energy.

Matter of fact, this move is a welcome development, though the workshop was silent about the hurdles that are likely to impede the distribution aspect of this ambitious project. Again, it is hoped that the support of the German agency is not a hidden agenda to create room for the importation of German equipment to facilitate the project. The reason is that such arrangement hampers the growth of our electricity industry operated by indigenous companies.

In Benin City, there are institutions that specialize in the repair of distribution and power transformers equipped with modern workshop facilities for such repairs and rehabilitation. Edo State Government and, indeed, the Ministry of Mining and Energy should look inward for such collaboration with our local industries as technical partners. These partners should be able to provide forensic diagnostic testing and analysis to pinpoint transformer faults. They should be able to carry out Site Acceptance Test (SAT) with test report on every transformer. A situation whereby transformers become invalid after some period will therefore be averted.

Engr. Albert Esenabhalu, in a chat, decried the low patronage of local industries. He suggested that government should fully implement the provisions made in the privatisation model which allows the Discos to arrange embedded generation of power to meet their requirement or supplement grid power.

While appreciating the plans by the Edo State Government, he advised the government to not to focus on profit orientation but instead be ready to invest for the future and its expansion.

According to Engineer Esenabhalu of Eset Trafo Limited, the situation today is very critical but the way forward is to liberalise privatisation to allow more participants or players in the industry whereby one major city can belong to one investor.

He opined that places like Warri, Benin, Akure, Ondo should belong to different investors as against one investor covering four or more states.

Perhaps this was what the ESIPO Chief Executive, Mr. Kelvin Uwaibi, meant when he said, "We are here for solutions. We are not here for blames."

Mr. Uwaibi added, "We are ready for collaboration. We assure all the stakeholders of our support to improve electricity in Edo State."

The Governor Obaseki-led administration should be commended for the foresight in promoting a culture of responsible energy consumption through public education campaigns. It is also good to note that in his desire to harness alternative energy source for the state, the Governor intends to collaborate with companies like Oando and Total Energies with a view to exploring solar power solutions for specific industries like mining.

The easiest way to manage and track energy to customers with the purpose of recovery is to adapt high voltage distribution system. Overbilling, which is the fear of customers, can easily be settled by NERC forum offices around all the places.

Finally, investors should see the commitment of Edo State in creating a reliable and sustainable energy as a positive venture. With this ambitious project and sincerity of those charged with the plans, buttressed by concrete collaborative approach, of the truth, Edo State will definitely become a leading player in the country's energy market.

In addition, businesses seeking growth and stability will be attracted. That is, if brand new assembly of transformers for any of the projects is ensured. Electricity business requires time for recovery of capital. Government should therefore not be in a hurry to make profit. It earns systematic profit.

Besides, for government to succeed, it should make sure that it implements the public/private partnership model with performance record.

Finally, breakdown should be avoided. Condition base maintenance on routine basis should be implemented.

With all these in mind, the Light Up Edo campaign will definitely be a huge success.

2024-05-05 News