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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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Invest in Rwanda, A Country With Unconventional Vision And Leadership

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Advertorial by Rwanda Development Board

Since the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Rwanda has risen from $752million to $9.5 billion in 2018, and the GDP per capita has grown from $125.5 to $787 during the same period. Due to Rwanda’s internationally recognized universal access to healthcare policy called ‘Mutelle de Sante’ life expectancy has risen from 29 years in 1994 to 67 years in 2016. Inflation has fallen from 101% in 1995 to 1.1% in 2018 and Rwanda has jumped over 100 places in the World Bank Doing Business Index, today ranking 38th globally and 2nd in Africa.

 Furthermore, with the 9 Year Basic Education policy, Rwanda has seen the average expected years of schooling rise from 6.2 years in 1995 to 11.2 years in 2017. These numbers, both the increases and decreases, are not merely statistics on paper, they reveal a people who have taken the reins of destiny into their own hands. Following the defeat of the genocidal forces by the Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels led by now president, Paul Kagame, many highly qualified development experts believed that the fabric of Rwandan society was irrevocably torn asunder. Over one million people had been killed in less than 100 days, over 3 million had fled the country to refugee camps in Tanzania, Burundi and the DRC (then Zaire), the national treasury was looted and there weren’t even pens and paper in government departments.

 Speaking to members of the Australian chapter of the YPO (Young Presidents Organization) in May last year President Kagame was asked this question, “experts say that a turnaround from a cataclysmic event such as genocide is supposed to take a century or at least a generation, how was Rwanda able to do so in only twenty years”? President Kagame mentioned the main aspects of the Rwandan turnaround; thinking big, having a vision, refusing to get stuck in the status quo, believing in, and having faith in the vision and, lastly, making sure that the journey is inclusive by bringing people in and creating possibilities for them to make their contribution.

 Rwanda does not have the usual ingredients for economic transformation. It does not have a wealth of natural resources such as oil or diamonds, it is landlocked, it has one of the highest population densities in the world. However, Rwanda has a will to build a better, more prosperous nation.

 What Rwanda did was put together a development plan called ‘Vision 2020’. This plan envisioned a Rwanda that was middle-income and knowledge-based. With a GDP growth rate which was dominated by double digits over the last 10 years, we are reaping the fruits of the ambitious plan.

 One of the fruits is the emerging MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and events) sector. Who could have imagined that 25 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda would become home to one of the most iconic and most expensive buildings in Africa, the KCC (Kigali Convention Center)? The KCC, a venue that includes a five-star hotel and conference facilities that can host over 5,000 delegates, will this year host, among other world class events, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). To date, KCC has hosted the African Union Heads of State summit, the Transform Africa summit as well as a myriad of regional and international events and conferences.

 The KCC has not been the only such ‘out of the box’ investment that the Government of Rwanda has made to create value where no one expected. A decade or so ago, the Government insisted on building the country’s very first five-star hotel, the present-day Kigali Serena hotel. Our development partners baulked at the investment, saying that there was no need for such a high-end facility. The Government, believing in its vision, went ahead and built the hotel thereby creating the anchor accommodation facility that opened Rwanda to the opportunity of becoming a regional destination for business travel and MICE. The country now has five 5-star hotels and more are opening up this year. Furthermore, high end accommodation establishments have opened their branches across different parts of Rwanda. To create the ecosystem that a vibrant MICE sector needed, the national carrier Rwandair was established, investments in skills and capacity building were made and the private sector was encouraged and supported to invest in the sector.

 Because the Government refused to take a laissez-faire attitude to the development of the MICE and the overall tourism sector, investments that we have registered in the sector as the Rwanda Development Board have totaled $1.5 billion since the year 2000. Hotel rooms have increased from 623 in 2003 to 14, 866 in 2018, tourism revenues have jumped from $131 million in 2006 to over $300 million with MICE tourism revenue numbers growing from inconsequential numbers in 2000 to $55 million in 2018. We expect that all the numbers will grow by at least 10% per year and projections show that the tourism sector will be worth $800 million by the end of 2024.

 This might seem ambitious, but we believe in our vision and we are actively working towards fulfilling it. That is why we partnered with different partners, including but not limited to Arsenal FC and Paris Saint Germain, English and French football teams respectively, to market Rwanda as a destination for tourism, MICE and investment. That is why Rwandair is increasing both its fleet as well as its destinations in Africa, North America, Europe and Asia and that is why we are currently building a new international airport in Bugesera, on the outskirts of Kigali, in partnership with Qatar. In addition, we have taken an active role in building an Africa that freely trades with itself through the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACTFA) and internally we have reformed both our business environment and visa regimes.

The business community has followed our lead. Last year, we registered over $2.4 billion in investments on the back of over 8% GDP growth. Leading global businesses such as Volkswagen, Motorola Solutions, Andela and Radisson today provide jobs to young Rwandans graduating from global institutions of learning that are based in Rwanda such as Carnegie Mellon University. In addition to the recent opening of the first smartphone factory by Mara Phones; companies including Volkswagen (in partnership with Siemens), Ampersand, and Safiride are also rolling out environment friendly transport solutions through electric vehicles and motorcycles on the street of Kigali and other parts of Rwanda.

 When we tell businesses that Rwanda is the right place to invest in, we are confident that they will find the right environment to thrive. Why? Because we built that environment.

Mr. Zephanie Niyonkuru is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, the Rwanda Development Board. The Rwanda Development Board is a one stop shop for investors, bringing business registration, investment promotion, tourism, ICT development, SMEs, human capacity development, privatization and specialist agencies under one institution.

Zephanie Niyonkuru

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Africa’s Top Employers 2020

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Top Employers Institute is the global HR authority on certifying excellence in employee conditions. For over 28 years, our firm has been dedicated to accelerating the impact of people strategies to enrich the world of work through certification, benchmarking, and connecting Top Employers around the world.

Through our HR Best Practices Survey, we enable organisations to assess and improve their workplace environment. Recognition through our programme helps companies become elevated as an employer of choice. We certify organisations worldwide. We recognise Top Employers based on a global four-stage programme governed by a strict standardised process. The leading-edge international research we conduct each year determines whether an organisation meets the required standard of excellence for Top Employer certification.

Africa’s Top Employers for 2020 were officially announced in November last year at the annual Top Employer’s Certification Dinner. A record 230 organisations officially registered to participate in the 2020 programme, 210 organisations spanning 32 African countries and 23 industry sectors were certified throughout the evening. 96 organisations will now carry the South African certification, while 114 Top Employers from 31 other African territories will carry their country specific certification. Top Employers Institute also recognised 17 continental Top Employers who have achieved certification in 4 or more countries.

Billy Elliott, Top Employers Institute Regional Manager: Africa, says that the certification provides employers with an important quality metric that enables them to position their brands more effectively in the attraction, retention, and engagement of top talent. “The Top Employers Institute is not just about certifying Africa’s Top Employers. We have seen a progression of HR in Africa over the last few years, and it is our role to empower and advance people strategies across the world. We are driven not just to certify but to benchmark and connect outstanding employers around the world,” he said.

These are organisations of the highest calibre, continuously working hard to create, implement and advance their people practices. This group of Top Employers provide an outstanding workplace experience, empower employees, and make the working world a greater place.

Read more about Africa’s 2020 Top Employers in the Forbes Africa supplement [HERE]

Have you got what it takes to be a Top Employer?

Visit www.top-employers.com/en-ZA/get-certified for more information.

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BOSS X Meissen Capsule Collection Inspired by The Big Five

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Johannesburg, 6 December 2019. BOSS celebrated its holiday capsule with an exclusive event on the 4th of December in Johannesburg.

Two internationally recognized German brands BOSS and Meissen came together for the first time. Inspired by Meissen’s celebrated Big Five figurines, a groundbreaking new collaboration united the two brands’ shared passions for quality, design and creativity.

The Big Five collection, designed by sculptor Maximilian Hagstotz, features the African lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, each decorated with a monochrome pattern placed to emphasize the animal’s characteristic traits.

These majestic creatures, depicted in an angular style inspired by traditional African wooden sculptures, are the starting point for a unique capsule collection of BOSS Menswear and Womenswear.  The fashion capsule collection includes both casual and formal pieces for men and women, all in a monochrome palette of black and white.

To honor this special capsule and collaboration, BOSS and a local franchise partner SURTEE Group hosted an exclusive dinner just in time for the holiday season, with a special guest in attendance – the founder of Elephants for Africa organization Dr Kate Evans.

Guests, dressed in black and white, were greeted by a life-sized white Meissen elephant statue with elegant black and white canapés and black martinis awaiting them. The sophisticated evening had everything from the food, to the décor, drinks and dress code following the monochromatic theme. The charismatic Mark Bayley and former Miss South Africa Jo-Ann Strauss kept VIP guests entertained as co-hosts.

The evening culminated with a private performance by South Africa’s much loved Mi Casa. 

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