Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) is assembling some of the best global innovators to find solutions to the energy challenges in Nigeria. Shell engineer SPDC’s General Manager External Relations, Igo Weli made this known at the start of “Make the Future Accelerator” programme organised by SPDC in Port Harcourt on Saturday.
He said the programme, a global advertising campaign, targets young people with brilliant ideas to come up with creative ideas to address world’s energy challenges. Weli said that Africa and Nigeria were chosen for the first time to host the sixth edition of the event due to the promising contributions from innovators in the country.
“Also, Nigeria was chosen as two entrepreneurs from the Niger Delta who incidentally are players in the energy space finished in the top 10 SPDC global competition for innovative energy solutions. “Today’s event is all about trying to see how we can ensure that Nigeria and Nigerians are part of the energy solutions of the future – because it is real. “There is energy transition as we speak and things are changing towards cleaner energy. Nigeria should be part of those solutions that would sustain the globe going forward. “So, what we are doing is to provide the platform for young Nigerian entrepreneurs to grow their business, so that they can be part of providing power solutions,” he said.
Weli said the journey to cleaner energy started some years ago but that SPDC was focused on taking it to the next level of innovation. He said that one of the biggest challenges facing the nation was the acute shortage of electricity supply which if addressed could usher Nigeria to economic prosperity. The shell official said the way forward was to fully privatise the power sector in a manner that it is driven as a business. “We should have willing investors supporting businesses that have solutions that are sustainable and credible to make it happen; just as we have in the telecommunication space.
“Nigeria has grown in the telecom industry because private capital came in and experienced investors came into the delivery services. This is the way to go in the power sector,” he said. Dr. Wiebe Boer, the Chief Executive Officer of Allon, a global player in renewable energy, said that Allon was interested in off-grid energy companies providing renewable energy from the “bottom up.” He said the company would invest in entrepreneurs that could provide electricity to households without having to go through the complexities of building a big generation and transmission infrastructure. According to him, the Nigerian government for the first time has taken a realist steps to addressing the acute shortage of electricity supply in the country.
“The current regulation that Nigerian government has just put out imply that companies are now free to generate power and sell power to whoever they want to. “Even Generation companies are now free to start selling power directly to customers. This means that the whole power system that we are used to has been changed for good. “My prediction is that within the next three to five years many of the Distribution Companies would be defunct by going the way of NITEL. “The Discos would become bankrupt and no longer viable because the bottom-up solutions are basically going to pick up the best customers until the Discos are left with no customers. “This is the future of energy in Nigeria,” he said. Boer said Nigerian energy innovators could access the 1.5 billion dollars Breakthrough Energy Ventures and the two billion dollars Rise Fund for investments in renewable energy solutions. Others are the one billion dollars set aside by the African Finance Corporation and 500 million dollars African Development Bank aide for financing of off-grid energy solutions.