The Managing Partner, Gosslink Engineering Limited, Mr. Tola Gbuyiro, in this interview with Femi Asu, says a lot still needs to be done to grow the nation’s power sector four years after privatization
Do you think the privatization of power sector has brought about more opportunities for companies like yours?
There are lots of opportunities in the sector. We visited countries like South Africa, Germany, and the United States before and during the unbundling to woo investors to come and invest in our country because they have the experience. There are a lot of opportunities in the sector; what we need is government’s support. There is a need to stick to policies and regulations in the sector and provide a framework for investors to come in. We can’t do it alone; we need both local and foreign investment.
What do you think about the sector four years after it was privatized?
After the privatization, the system is not working. Some of the investors are trying but if it is not working, what are the causes? Has the government done its own part? Do we have enough partners coming from overseas to work with the investors? Is the environment conducive for them to work? The system was bad before the investors came in. We need government’s support for the power sector to be developed faster. If they don’t politicise the sector, we will get there. Today, we are generating about 5,000 Megawatts and we want to achieve 20,000MW in the next five years. How do we achieve this? We need to stop politicising the system. Funds are required to develop the sector. There is no investor that will bring so much money and invest in a sector where you don’t know what will happen to you in the next one year. We need a lot of funding. We are all saying there is no electricity. How will there be enough electricity? If we look at the cost we incur every year on the generators we use in our homes, it is four times higher than what we spend on electricity from the national grid. Electricity is not cheap. Today, almost N58 is required for the generation of one megawatt of electricity and we are selling at N29 to N31. As of today, we are moving just zigzag because the government has not opened up the sector very well.
Apart from the government, the generation and distribution companies have a big role to play. Do you think they are also doing enough to develop the sector?
When the Discos and Gencos were buying the assets, it may be part of their fault, but we should understand that the environment was polarised during the privatization process. The union did not allow them to do a thorough investigation on some of the assets. They went into it because they had false information. Unfortunately, they had already purchased the assets before they understood what they bought was different from what they expected. We have seen that a lot of these people are just businessmen; that is why what they are expecting is the short-term return. How many of the DisCos will say they are ready to buy 20 units of 15MVA transformers in a year? DisCos are expected to meter all the customers. How many of the customers are metered? That is still an issue between the DisCos and the government. Customers have to be metered so that they can know how much they should pay for the electricity they consume. And if they are not metered, the DisCos would not know the losses they need to control.
What are the major challenges in the sector that require urgent attention?
One of them is the issue of funding and the other is regulation. We need funding; we need the commitment from the government to grow this sector and there should be proper regulation to ensure that things work. In the next five years, I believe there will be more improvement in the sector.
What are your company’s plans for the sector going forward?
Gosslink Engineering is at the forefront of facility services for the DisCos. We are actually looking at the areas we can partner them. We are power engineers specialized in the medium and high voltage engineering services and installations. We have been working in the power sector before the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria. One of the areas we want to help them to handle is the maintenance of the system. I have one of the best teams in this country that can work in that area.