“Nigeria is a tough country to do business and it takes time to show people, bring new ideas to them that could be of help”
Mr. James Agada, is the Chief Executive Officer, CWG Plc. In this interview with Daily Sun’s Tech & Gadgets on the sideline of a seminar organised for ICT journalists by the company.
Agada explained how CWG is using technology to solve power problem so that losses can be minimum and enable wide ecosystem.
Power sector/public private partnership
There are lots of issues in the power sector obviously, the particular areas where we have interest in currently is the distribution company side where there is clearly an inability of the distribution companies to turn a profit if they keep depending only on the payment for energy consumption. And the reason is not far fetched and is not unique to Nigeria, it is something that is there in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, in that our people are poor, therefore, they cannot usually afford electricity, one they don’t use much electricity and even when they do, they worry too much about how much it costs and it does cost some money to provide it.
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So, we see a situation where distribution companies can utilize the assets that they will earn they have to deploy to provide this electricity in such a way to generate additional revenue which could help to make it possible for them to do investment in the first place, then make the tariffs reasonable to the point where people can afford it more.
So, for a start we are working on the metering side, while doing that, we are building meters that can create additional revenue streams for the Disco and some of our meters come with the capability to provide Wifi hotspot and once you have wifi in an area and you can stream video, you can do a lot of other services, you can even run adverts which can generate revenue for the Discos.
We are already a meter asset provider and we have a few piled up projects going on right now hopefully we will be able to demonstrate it to the larger ecosystem and see this is a better approach.
The meter was designed by CWG, including the software. The only thing we don’t do is the physical hardware. We have people bringing it for us from China.
Our Smart Utility has the capacity to significantly reduce the challenges witnessed in the power sector. Some of the challenges include losses due to poor metering, theft through meter tampering and jamming or illegal connections and non-existence of energy audit.
The meter would be offered to electricity distribution companies in order to efficiently manage and monitor energy flow to the end users.
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It will be used by using a Pole Top Unit (PTU) mounted on each distribution poles. This measures current flow of all distribution lines from the distribution transformer to the customer. We develop, implement, install, manage and provide technical support on the solution. The meter comes in a single face for households and double faces. It will also allow remote disconnection on non-payment consumer and is a theft prevention solution, with utility analytics, energy audit, demand side management, real time billing efficiency and network asset management.
Nigeria is a tough country to do business and it takes time to show people, bring new ideas to them that could be of help and I don’t think it is a Nigerian thing I think it is how government all over the world operates because government have so many things to balance both economy, social, political and all that is there. However, it gets a bit more difficult because capital to invest is scarce and difficult to get. Capital to do research and development is practically unavailable and that is why we found out most solutions in Nigeria, we end up looking to import something. It is not because we are incapable of developing those things it is because we don’t have the money to fund it, to develop it because we have to eat while we are developing it. So, it would have been easier for instance for us if, the government supports us based on the idea given to them. It would have been easier if for your innovative solution, you have supportive financial terms, it would have been better in all those areas. However, we have to survive.
Advice for the government
The government in my view has created an environment where it is actually pretty easy for anyone to invest in power generation. I am not sure there is much more they can do, they have a scheme in place and they tactically guarantee you that the power output it generating that the government will pay for it. However, many of the other things are not fully under their control because they cannot be the provider of capital, they just have to have be the guarantor but then many of those capital that will work will have to be foreign capital and therefore, they have to present to those people who are bringing their capital from overseas, you have to present them a view that your country is a place where their capital is safe, if they make profit they can take it away, a power investment is a 30 to 50 investment. So, you need to be able to give them the impression that you are going to be stable and that your contracts are going to be respected over the 30 to 50 lifetime of the project. Those are probably the places I think are the places where government has to work.
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How affordable are your meters?
They are being deployed, as we speak we have a project going on in Sura market, we also have a few customers who had bought our pilot prints and we are going to finish those pilot programmes pretty soon because we delayed a bit because few of the technical things were been worked out. As it is we are ready to go. In terms of being affordable, we actually can tell anybody that we can give the meters cheaper than anybody is going to give you.