Every innovative bank keeps an eye on its operational costs. It is not just enough to declare huge earnings. What matters is how such earnings are retained as profit at the end of each financial year, The Nation reports
But one thing that has for decades eaten deep into banks’profitability is the rising cost of energy. It costs nearly N50 million yearly to power each bank’s branch with at least 10 hours of electricity supply daily.
To ease banks’ burden on power supply, Concept Technologies Managing Director, Tokunbo Tonade, has developed a solar energy option that will cost N13.6 million yearly to power each bank’s branch.
Speaking at a media parley in Lagos, he said: “We are powering the banks. If any ATM goes down because of power, they call us to fix it. We mentioned to them that they do not need to be spending N50 million yearly per branch on diesel. This is what we are capable of doing”.
Tonade said the country has to realise there is power problem before solving it. “I have been trying the best I can to advocate for renewable energy so that they can see the potential. We do what we call cost-benefit analysis for them. I have been trying to advocate for renewable energy so that Nigerians can see the gains in it. You are buying a generator; you are using X-amount of money to install the generator, to buy diesel and fuel yearly. The people manning the generator are paid, when we add everything up, they are higher than what you will use to install solar energy,” he said.
Ahead of the launch of the first three-bedroom solar powered home on Saturday, in Lagos, he said in the long-run, every year a bank spends N50 million to power each of its branches, in 10 years, it would have spent N500 million to power a branch alone.
“I want to give you something that has 25 years warranty at N120 million, and it will break even in two years, unlike your generator where you are spending N500 million in 10 years and you are still spending all the way. Sometimes, people listen to us, sometimes, they say we are talking rubbish. What I do basically is to start from the root,” he said.
Tonade said one of his company’s products, 150 watts solar energy facility, goes for N180,000, despite that interest on loans has been rising.
“What we are doing is to start from the grassroots. We are designing two-bedroom bungalows so that we can do solar estate. I held a meeting with Diamond Bank, and we are looking at ways the bank can take advantage of the solar energy plans. We are doing things at the grassroots to make them accept solar and solve the power problems,” he said.
He said Concept Technologies has continued overtime to help people realise their dreams.
“So, when people come to us with their concept, we use technology to bring it to life. But as time went on, we got to a point where we were building generators with vehicle engines. And from there, we moved to solar energy.
“So, Concept Technology is into renewable energy, from the point of view of saving the planet from global warming. If you look at the world globally closely, you will know that Nigeria is closer to the equatorial belt of the world than countries like Denmark, Sweden, but they use more solar than Nigeria does. They only have about four hours of sunlight per day but we have predominantly 12 hours and eight hours of serious sunlight. Still, we are not using half, or even one-third of what Germany, Sweden and so many countries are using,” he said.
Tonade said the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) target of meeting 2020 mandate on renewable energy in Africa is possible, but not likely to happen because it is not in the interest of the first world for that to happen.
“Whatever they design must always benefit them first. We may not be able to look at that because of our gullibility and our lack of capacity to think critically. For me, if a whiteman tells me he wants to give me $50 million to do something, I am trying to look at the string that is attached to that money. They will never do anything that will not benefit them first. Until Africans come together, and do things together, nothing good will happen,” he said.
“NEPAD said it will give us water in 1999, but the milestone was never met. NEPAD will only do things with hidden benefits that they will not let you see. I can guarantee you that 2020 will come and this issue will still be there,” he said.
He said the benefits of solar energy on the economy are huge. “The benefits for the economy are outstanding.The industries will be working and generating jobs and wealth. The carbon monoxide in our body is too high. The air we breathe is being polluted daily by generators. Our body has far more affinity to carbon than the oxygen we are using. They are have a carbon-based organic material. We are killing ourselves slowly and that is why some people sleep with generator and die in their sleep and they do not even know,” he said.
On the challenges the business is facing, he said: “In 2003, I was one of those that went to tell a particular company the gains of using renewable energy to power their office instead of generator. We submitted a fantastic write-up, and after six weeks of going back and forth, our inside person told us to forget about it, that they were just playing us. And I was shocked on why they should do that? Somebody high up there was supplying the diesel and was blocking the request. Those guys are so powerful. It is not just the power of money, but the power of control and can easily wave aside things that can benefit everybody provided it benefits them. Such hindrances still exist up till today,” he added.
“If you go to the government that you want to do this, whoever you are talking to will be looking at what he stands to gain. Now, this project that is being launched was solely financed by me.’’
He said he would in the coming months, be talking to Bank of Industry and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on access to low-cost funds to enable the company produce at lower cost and compete effectively.
Development interventions by the CBN in the power and aviation sectors reached N277.4 billion cumulatively between September 2016 and last June. Repayments by the operators are trailing progressively.
The programme, under CBN’s Power and Airline Intervention Fund (PAIF) has supported 59 projects in both sectors in efforts to keep them afloat amid harsh economic situation and threats to jobs.
Tonade said he would be keying into the project to enable the firm get cheaper funds to power more facilities at cheaper rates.
He said he would gladly go for the PAIF fund when he got all the details concerning it, from which the CBN had disbursed nearly N300 billion in three years to interested parties at single interest rate.
“I will gladly go for the opportunity. If I have access to such funds, that will be interesting. I will like to access the fund. You know about the Free Trade Zone and Dangote Refinery will attract at least 24,000 workers. If I get the fund, I will be able to power not less than 500 bungalows with solar,” he said.
“I am not even connected to the grid, and my power is always on. I waited for one year to test the project. It is not a matter of not doing what I am supposed to do and I do not have the fund. If I get access to the PAIF cash, I will surprise everybody.”
He said solar energy works 95 per cent on the sun and five per cent on diesel during cloudy weather. Rain does not disturb it. This system was designed to work 24 to 36 hours without sun. After 36 hours without sun, a generator kicks in automatically for six hours charge to fill the vacuum. And if the sun does not come after 36 hours again, the generator will kick in. But some batteries work beyond 36 hours. The solar is the main source, while the standby is to maintain the battery during rainy season,” he said.
On cost, he said there is no shortcut. “If you want electricity, you will pay for it. If you don’t pay for it, you get lack of electricity. A 200-watt solar panel costs about N50,000. The cost can be spread if the interest rate is minimal. We try to beat the cost as much as we can. I am not in it for money. The cost will be worked on, but for you to use renewable energy, you must be energy efficient.”
He said renewable energy is where the world is going. People don’t know how to live without depleting the resources of the environment.
On relationship with banks, he said: “We are calling on the banks to come and see that it works. They run it 10 hours daily, and it is based on that timeline that we arrived at the figure. The banks pay us quarterly to maintain the ATMs. It is only in this country that I see people bleeding money and they are not bothered. As far as I am concerned, banking industry is bleeding money because of personal interest. The wife of the owner of a particular bank supplies diesel to the bank’s branches. They do not want to lose that money. When we make the proposition on the solar option, they always frown at it. They are bleeding money, and it is eating deep into their profit and loss account. If one bank has 10 branches, that is N500 million.”
“Many banks have over 50 branches, but this is going to be a game changer. Whether the banks like it or not, someone will have to take action. I want the banks to go for N13.6 million offer instead of N50 million,” he said.