Nigeria: Africa’s prime power development hotspot

Nigeria offers a wealth of power sector business opportunities, with industrialists actively seeking generation and distribution solutions to power their business growth.

Paul Runge, Director Projects & Development Finance at research and consulting specialists Africa House, reports that his recent missions to Nigeria have revealed numerous opportunities for power sector businesses, particularly those operating in the renewable energy, solar energy, power storage, technical and training and specialist financial consulting arenas.

Africa House, also the research partner of the premier African power sector conference and exhibition, POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa, believes Nigeria is currently a hotspot for power industry development.

“With a population officially in the region of 186 million, serious power challenges and massive industrial growth potential, Nigeria is actively seeking new and viable power solutions to drive economic growth,” says Runge.

The Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria is among the organisations looking to alternative power solutions; since its members face growth constraints due to unstable grid power. “Some areas have grid power for only 9 – 16 hours a day. This could cause serious problems for industries like smelters or manufacturers. To overcome downtime, most manufacturers invest heavily in diesel generators, which adds to their bottom line costs. They are looking to renewable energy and hybrid solutions to assure power supply and support their growth,” he says.

In Nigeria, where components of the power ecosystem have been privatized, generation companies and distribution companies face certain operational challenges, including fixed power tariffs, Runge notes. However, these challenges present opportunities for suppliers and service providers who can support lower cost, more efficient operations, advanced new technologies and enhanced technical skills.

“In particular, we noted strong interest in advanced solar panels, battery storage technologies and high voltage cables during our recent talks in Nigeria,” says Runge. “But Nigeria is characterized by a vibrant, innovative entrepreneurial culture, where stakeholders are keen to explore any business partnerships that can drive genuine business value. So while many still consider Nigeria to be a challenging market, we see it as a country rich with growth potential.”

Hoping to foster beneficial business partnerships in Nigeria, Africa House has included delegates from several key Nigerian power organisations in the sub-Saharan VIP delegation to be invited to attend POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa 2018, and to participate in the event’s B2B meetings.

The sub-Saharan VIP programme is a highly successful initiative that sees PennWell hosting up to 80 VIPs from across sub-Saharan Africa at POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa, giving both the VIPs and conference delegates a rare opportunity to network and discuss potential partnership opportunities across Africa.

Africa House identifies and invites the VIPs, as well as arranging meetings with them throughout the event. Sue Bowden, Senior Research Executive at Africa House, reports that over 40 senior engineers, project managers and decision-makers from energy ministries, power utilities, projects and regional authorities in key power development regions have been identified for invitations to participate in this year’s sub-Saharan VIP delegation. “We have targeted nine countries and regions where power projects are currently in the pipeline, offering potential business partners good business opportunities,” she says. These include East Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

The VIPs will participate in the POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa B2B matchmaking and business meeting programme throughout the three days of the event.

Since this initiative’s inception, the sub-Saharan VIP and delegate matchmaking and B2B meetings have proved highly successful, with around 260 one-on-one meetings scheduled each year and participants reporting an 80% success rate.

B2B matchmaking is available to all POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa exhibitors and conference delegates. To participate, companies should register their interest

, outlining the regions, types of projects and types of companies they are interested in. Africa House will then confirm meetings with relevant VIPs and business representatives, arrange introductions and schedule the B2B meetings in a dedicated B2B meeting area on the show floor at POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa.

As Africa renews its efforts to take power access to over 650 million under-served citizens, power sector priorities to come under discussion at POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa 2018 will include Financing, Electricity Industry Strategy, Digitisation, Thermal Power Generation, Renewable Energy, Storage, Environmental Impact Technology,  and Power Delivery & Customers.


Biomass: untapped potential in Africa

There is significant potential for biomass power generation to supplement the energy mix and support decentralisation strategies, but this potential remains largely untapped, say experts.

Speaking ahead of the pan-African power sector forum POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa 2018, international power sector experts participating in the conference noted that biomass optimisation presented both challenges and opportunities in Africa.

As a renewable, carbon neutral and potentially cost effective power source, biomass is being harnessed effectively around the world, with Research and Markets’ ‘Biomass to Power’ report stating that by late 2016, there were approximately 3,600 active biomass power plants throughout the world, with an electricity generation capacity of approximately 51 GW.

Marko Nokkala, Technical Director at VTT-TECH Research CTR in Finland, says biomass presents good opportunities for Africa, but that few new biomass projects are actually being developed. “We fail to see why projects are not happening,” he says. “One major challenge appears to be a lack of understanding of the pros and cons of the different biomass technologies available. There is also a lack of capex – in South Africa, for example, we believe there are five or six firm biomass projects being investigated, but no credit lines for these projects.”

Dr. Jens Reich, Head of Sales of the Energy Technology Department of STEAG Energy Services GmbH, says biomass’s potential is still unlocked across Africa. “Key reasons for this include challenges in securing the supply chain. It is crucial for any such investment to have secure feedstock and suppliers,” he says.


Financing, digital revolution top of mind ahead of POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa

New power sector priorities are emerging across Africa, including financing of major power projects, joining the dots between generation and the 650 million ‘power poor’, and becoming agile in a digital world, report the experts convening ahead of POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa conference and expo.

Pan-African and international power sector experts who met in Johannesburg last week to assess papers for the upcoming POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa 2018 report that key power challenges and priorities have changed across Africa in recent years.

The POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa advisory board, which meets annually to review papers to be presented at the conference, says there has been a clear change in focus in recent years. Where as recently as five years ago, the continent’s primary focus was on generation, there is growing urgency among players to address issues such as developing continent-wide, integrated strategies to deliver power to the estimated 650 million who still have no access to power.

Utilities’ balance sheets and business models are also in the spotlight; as is the impact of digital technologies on the sector as a whole.



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