What projects has Sahara Power been involved in recently?
In the last few years, we have implemented regular upgrades at our 1,320-MW Egbin power plant, the largest privately run thermal power plant in sub-Saharan Africa. At the point of purchase, it was producing about 400MW, but over the years we have successfully taken the plant to about 1,100MW. We are also currently overhauling the plant's turbines, boilers, and generators to equally extend their lifespans and ensure every unit is more efficient. We are also working toward the expansion of the power plant, whilst procuring all the necessary equipment and engaging the talent required to deliver world-class power generation at Egbin. Stability and reliability are critical components of a power plant, and we have done incredibly well by enhancing the plant's reliability. We are currently contributing approximately 800MW to the grid, which has been a tremendous achievement. Lagos is the hub of electricity in Nigeria in terms of load, industry, and commerce. Therefore, the higher the load available to Lagos State, the better it is for Nigeria. In Lagos, there are around 22 million residents, so we are really pushing the agenda to deploy more energy into the area for the purpose of ensuring economic growth and development. Besides Egbin, we have another power plant called First Independent Power Plant in the oil-rich Niger Delta region. It has an installed capacity of 561MW and currently operates at 338MW, so we are on course toward achieving our vision of bringing energy to life by lighting up opportunities in Nigeria and ultimately beyond.
What is your view of the call for more cost-reflective tariffs in order to increase power supply in Nigeria?
Unfortunately, we still do not have cost-reflective tariffs today despite the review. We are not where we want to be, because the cost of service increases almost every time due to inflation, rising interest rates, or the fluctuating naira. However, the government is conscious of the need to protect those consumers that it considers unable to pay for the product. As a company, we have segmented our customers in a manner that ensures we are able to serve more reliably and create more value, while also keeping the business running through innovation. We segmented our market in Ikeja into two and have classified some customers as premium. We started doing this two years ago in locations where customers have the capacity to pay. We now have tiered arrangements whereby tariffs are structured for different customers and different consumption patterns, and the government has borrowed a leaf from the success of that strategy.
What is your outlook for Sahara and the power sector in Nigeria in the coming years?
Sahara is looking for ways to make things better by providing diverse solutions in different environments. We will also implement investments in renewable energy, as we have abundant natural resources that we do not have to pay so much for. Going green is another area of opportunity that is gaining acceptance across the continent. We are setting the tone for this through the deployment of electric buggies and scooters at Egbin Power to promote environmental sustainability and prepare for the era of electric vehicles. For companies that have their own generating system, for instance, we want to combine their self-generation with ours and guarantee uninterrupted electricity daily. We are increasingly investing in research, development, and innovation to find alternative solutions to how we currently supply electricity. Sahara is celebrating 25 years of bringing energy to life this year across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and I am excited about the awesome future ahead of us.