ALHAJI Idris Mohammed is the former Managing Director of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KADECO) and founder and Chief Executive Officer of Dellamore Consultancy International Limited. He was a guest speaker at the just concluded 5th Powering Africa: Nigeria Investment Summit, held at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. He speaks with MAYOWA OKEKALE and OKE PETER on the challenges facing power sector and why total overhaul is needed. Excerpt:
What is Dellamore doing in the Nigeria power sector?
Dellamore Consultancy International Limited is a power consultancy firm with a strong business ties with China, the United Kindom, Germany and Canada. So far, we have been involved in power sector activity in Nigeria and Niger Republic, and we are working to extend our services to the Chad Republic. Here in Nigeria, we are partnering with the EnergyNet to pursue our interest and we are glad that we are doing it with passion as we have the support of the international investors. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a group of Chinese consortium to generate the biggest coal fired plant because, as investors and entrepreneurs, it is only what you dream that can become a reality. We are also preparing ground for collaboration with a Chinese investor, CCGCC. The group has the largest hydro power plant in the world. Also, we are in the process of signing a MoU to invest in small hydros and solar. We have also signed an agreement with the Kaduna State government to generate 100 megawatt of solar power plant, we are at the process of finalising the land titles to enable us move to the next stage.
What influenced your participation in the power sector and can you say you have contributed to its development?
This is based on my experience in the sector, having spent over 24 years in the National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA, and the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KADECO). I have discovered that the greatest problem in Nigeria power sector is that of generation and transmission infrastructure. A lot of things are needed to be done to overhaul the Nigeria Power sector. From no light to light. From light to stable light, so as to facilitate industrial take off. When that is done, the economic index of the country will move to a higher horizon and the seeming poverty level will be addressed, because there will be room for employment opportunities for the unemployed. If we are able to achieve this, especially in a time of recession, we believe that history will judge us in Consultancy Dellamore that we have come and done our part and have change the face of power sector in Nigeria and moving ahead in West Africa.
How were you able to solve some of the challenges of power supply during your time as KADECO Managing Director?
When I was at KADECO, we embarked on massive metering of our customers. We implemented the plan and it worked and up to the time I left office, that metering was sustained. And because our customers were happy they were metered, they paid their bills on time because there was no fear of estimated billings. They were able to recharge their electricity and there was no more billing but fending system. That singular action really changed the fortune of KADECO and we were able to generate about N1.25 billion revenue, and there was a time it moved up to N1.35 billion. That record, till today, has not been achieved in KADECO. I stand to be challenged.
What did you do differently then?
When I was in KADECO, there was virtually no light in Kaduna but, as a result of my strong passion and desire to make a change, by the time I left the office in December 2014, during the handing over ceremony to the new owner, North West Power, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) that handed over the company to the new owners confirmed that the status of power has increased in Kaduna and its environs. States like Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states were having 24 hours uninterrupted power supply. So we want to continue from that point to contribute significantly to develop Nigeria power sector.
If you were able to surmount those challenges then, what is your advice for other DISCOs in Nigeria against the present reality now?
My advice is simple, by the time the investors took over some of the DISCOs, they had little time to study the business they bought. They knew nothing about the system as they were just anxious to take over the businesses of the company and it is very important to know the history of what you are buying. They had all the opportunities to study the profile of the companies before they bought them and even before they bought the company. They were supposed to maintain a succession plan to enable them understand the details of the company. They didn’t have that in their programme at all. They just want to make profit and get rid of the workforce that is the backbone of the business. So, because they were able to do that, their performances dropped to an abysmal and disturbing level, even to a point that everywhere in Nigeria, everyone was complaining about light.
Sir, it was reported that there was a time that there was no light in every other states but only Kaduna. What did you do differently then?
I embarked on aggressive overhaul of my distribution network. There was decay in the infrastructure and I was able, with my management team, to completely replace all obsolete equipments in our network, and we were able to collect whatever energy transmitted to us for the use of our people. Now, a lot of DISCOs do not have the capacity to take the power that transmitted to them to distribute or sell to the customer. And that is the main problem we are having in the power sector today.