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HWP Group Partnering for Success

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Uyo Ogbebor and Ayo Akinbode, Co-Founders, HWP Group. Picture: Supplied

Igniting Nigeria HWP Group is on a mission to become the leading media, entertainment and hospitality company in Nigeria by 2025. 


The company appears to be well on its way to achieving that goal.  Founded in 2014 by partners Uyi Ogbebor and Ayokunle Akinbode, the company operates several successful subsidiaries.

Several diverse, but complementary businesses operate under the HWP umbrella. Moscow Underground, a unique nightclub in Abuja, is known for its distinctive air of luxury. The restaurants Chow by Moscow and Tiki Cultures tantalize the taste buds with a variety of distinct signature dishes.  

To ensure all enjoy luxury hospitality, Hotwire Development focuses on building world-class luxury resorts, hotels, and luxury terrace apartments, one of which is called Swiss Cottage, currently under construction in the high profile Wuye neighborhood in Abuja.  

Members of the HWP Group. Picture: Supplied

The company is planning a five-star resort and is currently waiting on governmental approvals to commence construction in 2019. Brand management projects are under Hotwire Media which provides digital media strategy and execution services for companies operating in both domestic and international markets. 

Committed to giving back to the community, the company also operates the Hotwire Foundation. The foundation presently runs an Eye Care Reach-Out program in Ondo State, Nigeria, for indigent patients.

An innovator in the tourism and entertainment sector, the company serves over 20,000 customers and employs around 200 people in the greater Abujaarea. HWP’s strength lies in its partnerships, some of which include GDN LVMH(Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), British American tobacco, and Trace Nigeria. 

Moscow Underground, a nightclub in Abuja. Picture: Supplied 

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Rwanda Aspires To Become A Business And Innovation Hub In The Next Decade

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Advertorial by Rwanda Development Board

1. Looking at RDB’s ten-year journey, what did it take to get it here?

It took a bold vision by H.E. Pres Paul Kagame, and the entire Government, to prioritize private sector development, as the driver of Rwanda’s socio-economic transformation.  This formed the basis for the creation of the Rwanda Development Board, as a one stop institution to provide key services, and expedite decisions affecting investors as well as reforms for a very conducive business environment.

We wanted to bring all the agencies responsible for business registration, investment/export promotion, privatization and specialist agencies which support the priority sectors of ICT and tourism as well as SMEs and human capacity development in the private sector all under one roof. This meant less legwork for investors as they had one major institution to work with, as well as time and financial savings for Government.

This vision has paid off. Today, Rwanda, at 38th rank, is the only Low-Income Country in the top 50 of the 2020 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Report and is the 2nd easiest place to do business in Africa after Mauritius. Consequently, Rwanda has been recognized as the top global reformer by the World Bank with the highest number of implemented reforms over the last ten years.

Similarly, in terms of investments into Rwanda, last year we surpassed the US$ 2 billion target for the first time in the country’s history, with investments registered over US$ 2.006 billion in 2018 up from about US$ 400 million registered in 2010. This is a sign of the continuous investor confidence in Rwanda by both local and foreign investors. Tourism has also doubled within the same period reaching over $400m today, while exports of our key products in agriculture, minerals and manufactured products quadrupled over the last decade.

As an institution, I am also proud to say that we are a competitive employer, with many talented Rwandans are aspiring to join our workforce, and be part of a unique opportunity to contribute to Rwanda’s transformation.

2. Rwanda’s seems to have claimed her place in the world, what did it take to achieve that?

Apart from the ambitious reforms that we have put in place over the last decade, we have done our best to showcase Rwanda to the world as the best place to invest and do business, the best place to set up a factory and sell Made in Rwanda products as well as the best place to enjoy exciting tourism offerings.

Last year, we signed a strategic partnership with two major global players, Arsenal Football Club in London and Alibaba from China.

The deal with Arsenal aims to market the country under the ‘Visit Rwanda’ brand. Through the partnership, we have been able to increase people’s knowledge and interest in Rwanda.

Let me illustrate. Since the announcement of the partnership in May last year, we have seen a lot of interest especially through our online presence:

• Within two weeks of the launch, 58 news stories reached a global audience of 1.2 billion people;

• Google searches of Rwanda in the US increased by over 1000% for keywords like: ‘Visit Rwanda, Rwanda travel, Rwanda tourism, and Kigali Rwanda hotels’.

• Visit Rwanda is now seen 35 million times each time Arsenal plays.

• Visit Rwanda social media posts by Arsenal reach a direct global audience of over 15 million people.

In the same way, Rwanda partnered with Alibaba Group in October 2018 to bring Rwanda tourism packages closer to the Asian market through Alibaba’s online travel platform, Fliggy, as well as Rwandan products through Tmall. We are selling coffee and tourism on these platforms and will soon add chillis.

We also participate in global platforms such as the World Economic Forum, trade fairs, and investments forums to Showcase Rwanda to the World.

3. The country is still struggling to curb the balance of trade deficit, now what is being done deliberately to improve this position?

We are exploring different ways of solving the country’s trade deficit by looking at ways to benefit from Rwanda’s strategic regional positioning in order to increase exports as well as domestic manufacturing.

Rwanda has strategic access to four countries and a catchment area of a consumer market of nearly 60 million people reachable by road, barely four hours away from Kigali in all directions. This market has a purchasing power of US$1-2 billion in basic fast-moving consumer goods and another US$1.5 billion in consumer durables. To maximize the benefits from this market, the Rwandan Government established Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to enhance the country’s competitiveness as a commercial/logistics hub, taking advantage of her natural strategic location through the promotion of export oriented industrial activities as well as re-exports, manufacturing and services.

Today, over 29 companies are already set up in the Kigali SEZ and others have set up in the other SEZs located country-wide, manufacturing made in Rwanda products using raw materials sourced from Rwanda, most of which is exported after.

If you look at Rwanda’s 2018 exports, a big part of that were processed products made by companies in the SEZs. For example, we have Africa Improved Foods who make nutritious foods using soya, milk, maize among other products. They buy from farmers, process then export it. Last year, they exported goods worth almost US$ 30 million.

Soon we hope Rwandan companies will also start exporting cars assembled by VW, phones made by Maraphones, pharmaceutical products made by Cooperpharma.

Lastly, we are also growing exports in Services, particularly tourism, innovation through our innovation ecosystem among others.

 4.  70% of working population in agriculture with the coming of the fourth industrial revolution and a focus on manufacturing, is there a plan to reskill this population?

In terms of creating jobs, Rwanda has been creating new jobs every year and targets to create over 1.5 million jobs over the next seven years. To achieve this, industrialization is key to absorb our youth who can move from agriculture to basic manufacturing. A very good example is in garment-making. Pink Mango located in the Kigali SEZ will employ over 1,500 people. If we have 100 more businesses like Pink Mango in the SEZs, it would have industrial parks as the primary source of jobs in Rwanda. We are also preparing to move further in the industrial chain in order to take advantage of the industrial revolution.  This is through investing in vocational training as well as world-class STEM education. Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda, for example has produced over 100 graduates over the last 10 years. Others training in STEM are Africa Leadership University, African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), as well as the University of Global Health University, in public health.

5. What are the aims/goals for the next 10 years?

RDB’s vision is to work with our partners to transform Rwanda into a dynamic global hub for business, investment, and innovation.  The next 10 years will deepen this goal. We will continue to foster and fast track private sector led economic growth across all sectors, and make Rwanda every investor’s first choice. Our best years are yet to come.

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Mainstream Energy; Powering Nigeria Through Kainji And Jebba Dams

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True Nigerian Experience Interview with Engr. Lamu Audu

1. During the 2013 Power Sector Privatisation, Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited (MESL) acquired Kainji and Jebba Hydro Power Plants. 6 years down the line, how well have you fared on this project?

It has been a very interesting journey for us since we took over the operation and management of the Kainji and Jebba Hydropower Plants (“HPPs”) through a concession agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria (“FGN”) in

November 2013.

It was incredibly challenging at the initial stages, especially at Kainji where the available capacity was at zero (0) megawatts (MW). None of the eight (8) generating units with a total installed capacity of 760 MW, was operational in November 2013. However, in the case at the Jebba HPP which has total installed capacity of 578.4 MW, five (5) of the six (6) generating units were in operation, with a total available capacity of 460 MW.

Today, we are proud to have increased the total available capacity of both plants to 922 MW, with Kainji being the major success story as it now has four (4) operating units at an available capacity of 440MW while Jebba contributes 482MW to the National Grid. This has translated to a remarkable improvement in MESL’s power generation from 2,715 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2013 to 5,277 GWh in 2018, accounting for an average of 25% of Nigeria’s power generation.

I would say that we have done very well in optimising power generation in Nigeria and delivering on the mandate of the FGN following the decision to privatise the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (“NESI”), six (6) years ago. What we have achieved so far is vivid proof that privatisation works as it has created an avenue for private sector investments into the industry, for the benefit of the economy.

2. In 2018 financial year, MESL generated about 60 Billion Naira in revenue up from 3.7 Billion in 2013 financial year. How did you achieve this?

A whole lot of factors have contributed to the company’s growth over the last six (6) years. With a visionary and astute board of directors and committed and diligent management team, the company has put in place several programmes focused on technical and human resource capacity development to galvanise the operation and management of both power plants.

In the area of technical capacity building, MESL has a robust Capacity Recovery and Expansion Programme which we have pursued vigorously by focusing on restoring the capacity at Kainji to guarantee year-round power generation of at least 750 MW on average. The company also invested heavily in technology and state-of-the-art equipment to optimise operation and maintenance at both plants, such as the satellite-based technology, called the Inflow Forecasting System and Operational Tool Software (IFS/OPT). This aids flood management and projections of the flow of water into the Kainji reservoir and guides our operations to maximise power generation at the plants.

As you are aware, no company can thrive without the help of skilled and committed personnel, as such, we deemed it our utmost priority to focus on building a strong culture within the organisation. In the words of the renowned Peter Drucker “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, so it was important that we paid close attention to the development of the “MESL Culture”.

The Board of Directors, therefore, made a strategic decision to consolidate the management of both plants, which were under two (2) managements prior to the concession. Management, under my leadership was also given the mandate to institutionalise a strong work ethic amongst staff, establish a competitive staff welfare package, robust performance management framework and most importantly, conduct a Change Management Programme for the employees that had previously been engaged by the erstwhile Power Holding Company of Nigeria (“PHCN”).

We needed the employees, myself included, to start thinking of power generation from a profit-driven perspective. I must confess that this took some time, but we are proud of our achievements thus far in turning the plants around significantly and positioning for greater successes in the future.

Our focus on staff welfare has been integral to the growth of this company as employees now have a sense of ownership. Indeed, MESL has put in place a share trust scheme where every employee becomes a beneficial owner of the company upon assumption of duty.

I would therefore say that the effectiveness of these programmes has driven productivity amongst staff and aided the growth of the business to where it is today.

3.Your profitability also took an upward trend from a 1 Billion Naira loss position in 2013 to 26.3 Billion profit after tax in 2018. Again, how did you do this?       

A major turning point was the total repayment of the company’s acquisition loan of $170 million which enabled the company to optimise its profitability as a business.

The growth of the business from 2013 has been phenomenal, but this has not been without its challenges. We know that we could perform even better if key issues across the value chain of the NESI are addressed. For example, we have major challenges with the collection of receivables, as we are presently being paid a meagre 18-20% of our invoices, due to collection losses at the distribution end of the value chain.

“In the words of Peter Drucker, Culture eats strategy for breakfast, so it was important that we paid close attention to the development of the “MESL Culture”.

This means that as at September 2019, the company is being owed over 100 billion Naira in receivables. We are also inundated by ramp down requests due to grid instability, which also leads to revenue losses. We have lost about 17 billion Naira from 2016 till date because of this.

MESL has been able to position itself as a performance leader within the industry by proffering innovative and practical solutions to boost its capacity for the benefit of the country. It is our hope that appropriate policies are put in place by the relevant authorities to provide an enabling environment for the NESI to sustain itself through inflow of investments to finance the industry’s infrastructure requirements; coupled with a cost-reflective tariff on electricity, we believe these losses could be significantly reduced, and eliminated over time.

4. Having successfully turned around Kainji and Jebba Hydro Power Plants, are there aspirations to venture into Distribution or consolidation of your competitors?  

Our primary priority as the largest hydropower generation company is to support the stability of the National Grid, increase capacity and contribute to national development by generating power in a safe and reliable manner.

In the short- to medium-term, our focus is on the recovery and expansion of capacity at both Kainji and Jebba. We have indeed commenced the rehabilitation of Unit 1G7 at Kainji which will add 80 MW to the National Grid in 2020 and we are at the closing stages of negotiations for the rehabilitation of Unit 2G6 at Jebba which upon completion will add 96.4 MW to the Grid. In line with the expansion programme, MESL will also install additional generation units with a combined 200 MW at Kainji HPP, to expand the installed capacity of Kainji to 960 MW. 

As a member of the West African Power Pool (WAPP) under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), MESL is also strategically positioned to support the West African regional electricity market, hence, the need to focus squarely on the expansion of capacity to achieve our mission and vision.

We are also looking to extend our coverage beyond Nigeria through strategic investments in hydro and other renewable power generation projects (brownfield and greenfield) in West Africa. Investments in solar power generation would help complement the management of our HPPs and provide off-grid solutions to support the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.

In collaboration with the Niger State Government, MESL has also committed capital towards the establishment of the Amfani Industrial Park and Free Trade Zone, strategically located at the east of the Kainji Lake and adjacent to Kainji HPP, to attract investments into the country. This development will provide an avenue for local and international companies to set up their businesses and have access to power, water, transportation networks and other ancillary utilities.

Of course, MESL seeks to make strategic Investments to support the value chain of the NESI and has recently invested in certain distribution assets, as we aim to contribute to the growth and development of Nigeria’s economy by aiding the supply of stable and safe electricity for Nigerians to power their homes and businesses.

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Mojec International: Blazing The Trail In Sub-Saharan Africa With Electricity And Innovative Power

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True Nigerian Experience Interview with Chantelle Abdul.

1. For 34 years, Mojec International holdings have gone from Power, Energy, Technology, Real Estates to mining. Kindly run us through your trajectory from 1985 to 2019.

MOJEC Group of Companies is an international holdings company headquartered in Lagos with operations in Power, oil and gas, Renewable Energy, Smart Homes, Mining and the retail sector. Its Subsidiary, Mojec Meter Company is the largest meter manufacturer in Nigeria.

Mojec international’s rich history is rooted in its provision of key products and services to the consumers. Mojec has its roots in FMCG (Fast Moving Consumers Goods), it began as a commodities company, distributing and marketing Michelin tyres, through its partnership with the French owned Michelin tyres; papers and foods to Nigerians, via its partnership with NORSE paper and WAPCO respectively.

Mojec eventually became Michelin tyres’ leading Distributor and was nominated Michelin Ambassador for West Africa in the year.

By the early 90’s the company had ventured into the Nigerian Power sector and was the first to introduce prepaid meter technology to the then NEPA (National Electric Power Authority) turned PHCN (POWER HOLDINGS COMPANY OF NIGERIA), the nationalised government parastatal which had the responsibility of  generating, transmitting and distributing power in Nigeria.

The biggest issue with the national utility was revenue protection; its inability to collect payments on bills issued to customers. A prepaid meter afforded them the opportunity to collect payments ahead of consumption. At the time there was a 90% metering gap in the country as such Nigerians were given estimated bills by the Utility which led to a distrust of the utility by customers. Mojec took on the gigantic task of helping bridge the metering gap in the country.

In 2010, MOJEC introduced smart Meters into the country and by 2013 pre-privatisation of the power sector, Mojec International built the largest meter assembly facility with an installed capacity of 1.2 million meters in the heart of the commercial capital of the country, Lagos. Today the firm is tripling its production capacity by building a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant located in its ‘’SMART ELECTRIC-CITY’’ Project, the largest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.

By 2016, three years post- privatisation, Mojec had a 50% penetration into the market and by 2018 the company had footprints in over 75% of the metering market, serving 8 out of the 11 Utilities in the country. Mojec meters was the first firm in the power space to roll-out mass meters into the Nigerian market, providing multi- year financing payment options to the utilities to enable them deploy hundreds of thousands of meters to eager customers. Mojec pioneered the vendor financing of large meter contracts to utilities with minimal collateral requirement and as such Mojec Finance was born out of the necessity to provide financing options to the utilities in Nigeria. Mojec Meter company has the largest installation fleet in the country by virtue of the size of its meter production contract with the Discos.

Mojec Meter is now a leading indigenous manufacturer and contractor to power utilities in Nigeria and across the western hemisphere, and has won several awards such as West Africa Power Industry awards, in 2016. In 2019, Mojec achieved another milestone. The company got listed in the London Stock Exchange as one of the companies to inspire Africa. This accomplishment which the company is very proud of prides itself on hard work, great team of experts, innovation, great customer service and excellent service delivery.

Today, as part of its smart electric city project, Mojec is venturing into the local production of meter boxes, circuit breakers and other components that are used in metering to serve the 70% metering gap in the country which is initially estimated at between 5-10million meters.  The company has also made great strides in mining assets in the country with intent to explore and refine produce for exports. Lastly, its greatest pride is in empowering young people and building Africa of the Future and to do so, Africa needs to leverage on technology to leap sing it the 22nd century.

At Mojec, we are committed to building a world of possibilities. We are building Africa’s future and building the future in Africa.

2. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission recently introduced Meter Assets Provider Scheme to fast track the roll-out of prepaid meters to the Electricity consumers. Consequently, Mojec Meters Assets Management company signed the retail financing with 8 Nigerian Banks for electricity consumers, how well have you gone with this initiative

 The Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) introduced a new regulation called MAP (Meter Asset Provider Scheme) in May 2018. The scheme which was subsequently implemented in 2019 was designed to fast track the closure of the metering gap which extricates consumers from plight of dealing with estimated electricity bills given by the utilities. It also encouraged the development of independent and competitive meter services in the industry.

In April 2019, Mojec Meter company partnered with Eight (8) banks to provide loans to customers to enable them purchase meters. These partner banks include Zenith Bank, Polaris Bank, First Bank, Sterling Bank, Wema Bank, Unity Bank and Keystone bank. Customers can now approach these banks to get their meter purchasing loans.

Mojec Meter Asset Management Company (M3AC) is the MAP subsidiary of Mojec International. M3AC is saddled with the task of providing meter assets, installation and maintaining financing of these meters to end users for 1-10 years., It is the largest MAP in the country today.

“In 2019, Mojec achieved another milestone. The Company got listed on the London Stock Exchange as one of the companies to inspire Africa. This accomplishment, which the company is very proud of, prides itself on hard work, great team of experts, innovation, great customer service and excellence service delivery.

M3AC won the award to provide meters to 3million Nigerians over the course of 3 years, as such M3AC and Mojec Finance must develop the in-house capacity to lend money to retail customers. The opportunity for investment here is Immense because it runs into revenues in the hundreds of Millions of dollars and it entails lending to the informal sector of the country which makes up about 60% of the population.

3. Beyond Metring of homes and commercial clients, Mojec Power is said to be leading the provision of renewable energy to commercial and industrial clients. Tell us more about your venture into the clean Energy space.

In a strategic move to further tackle the challenge of uninterrupted   power supply to Africans, 2019 was tagged ‘’ THE BEYOND METERING YEAR’’.  Virtuitis Solaris  is Mojec’s Portfolio company for the provision  of renewable energy solutions and smart Energy. The company seeks to use the power of abundant Sun in Africa to power people’s homes, offices, industries and cars. During the day while they are not home, the power generated by the panels  can be stored in smart energy storage  units called V-cube or the V-container (which stores up  to 100kv  of power).

Virtutis Solaris also offers clients smart home Solutions which includes automation, Energy measurement and Energy Management. Customers are able to remotely switch on and off appliances in their homes in the bid to manage their energy consumption. Solaris intends to deploy solutions nationwide.

Solaris is also involved in building embedded mini grids for large commercial, industrial, and utility customers.

4. In your opinion, six years down the line, how well have we fared with Nigeria Power Privatisation Program of 2013.

In my opinion, we have fared very well with the Nigeria Power Privatisation Program of 2013. The Federal Government took the very bold step of privatizing the Nigerian power sector in 2013 with the sale of majority shares in the Distribution and Generation companies to private investors.

The privatization was driven by the desperate situation of the sector, which affected businesses and all aspects of Nigerian life, thereby crippling economic growth as only 4,000 megawatts of power was available to 180 million Nigerians.

One major key to our success has been the willingness to identify industry issues and tailor solutions to them and address industry issues directly. Some examples include lack of finance in the sector, we designed to address this issue with the distribution companies (discos). We were able to get and offer vendor funding which made our meters attractive to our customers and the discos. Another example is our willingness to tailor our meters to address the needs of our customers, such as enhanced resistance to tampering. This helps to ensure adoption in the market. We also ensure that at all times we are the most cost effective and reliable solution to our client’s problems.

As we look into the future, while acknowledging the great challenges ahead, we continue to see opportunity for growth in the sector and are willing and able to partner with key industry stakeholders to face and surmount the industry problems head on.

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