The legal adviser to the Federal Government’s Advisory Power Team (APT), Mr Dapo Akinosun has called for a home-grown solution to Africa’s energy problems and needs.
Akinosun made the call in the on-going African Utility Week conference in Cape Town, South Africa where he was a featured speaker.
The theme of the conference is “What is the best-cost and optimal mix in Africa?”
APT is made up of experts in various areas of the power sector, including Gas to Power, Solar Power, Transmission, and Generation among others.
The mandate of the team is to provide technical support to the Federal Government on power and to harmonize the direction of all MDAs (Ministries, Departments & Agencies) involved in the power sector.
The team also reviews proposals from investors and foreign governments interested in participating in the power sector, with a view to advising the government accordingly.
The team’s mandate makes it interface with participants in all areas of the power sector.
The team regularly conducts physical assessment of various power facilities across the country. It is strategically placed under the office of the Vice President who supervises many of the MDAs in the power sector.
Speaking at the forum, Akinosun said in as much as there are energy challenges, the best way out is to develop home-grown solutions.
Hear him: “Yes, we talk about the financial demands of the industry but it is key to break these demands into piecemeal tasks such that the financial needs can be solved with home grown remedies rather than imported ‘medications’.
“To this extent, what Nigeria currently obtains from Europe and the US should be obtained from countries like Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, etc;
“Energy is the most important commodity. Period! Energy can be measured for empirical purposes in per capita terms.
“The country of Nigeria and indeed the continent has some of the great potentials for demand for energy.
“We should not misuse this opportunity. An African that is both independent and interdependent is in the enlightened self-interest of all”.
“My vision for Africa in the energy sector is one that is independent and interdependent, Independent by national design and perspective; and interdependent by international choice and focus”, he said.
Akinosun believes that the Nigerian Power sector is on a peculiar learning curve the realities of which are better appreciated when put in proper perspective.
“It should be understood that Nigeria’s power sector is the only privatized power system in the continent.
“That in itself poses management challenges as there are no Africa specific benchmarks to use in comparison. This becomes important when we realize that all development is achieved based on comparative models which in our case we do not have. It is therefore axiomatic that for every major achievement we need to dig within to find a solution”, he said.
He acknowledged the privatization process in the sector has a few imperfections which have lengthened the learning curve in the industry.
He further identified the fluctuation of the Nigerian naira vis-à-vis the major currencies of the world.
“Given that most of the components of the Nigerian power sector are imported, fluctuation in the value of the Naira makes business planning a nightmare”
Despite all the challenges, Akinosun believes that the industry has very great potentials for those who are ready to invest in the energy sector.
“it’s not all gloom and doom. The challenges in and of themselves are business opportunities. Equally important is that the liberation of the sector has shed light into a previously opaque sector;
“The light that has come helps to itemize in verifiable terms the opportunities in the sectors. This becomes good news to entrepreneurial interests and the investor community.
“In a summary, the power sector is a case of half empty and half full. The way you choose to look at it will determine if you can benefit from the sector or not”.
Akinosun therefore advocates a home-grown solution to Africa energy problems.
Akinosun is also the Principal Partner of Simmon Coopers Partners, a top rate Nigerian law firm.
He is responsible for the Energy and Infrastructure Practice at the chambers.
He has advised governments, organizations who are participants at all levels of the energy sector, in ensuring optimum effectiveness in their activities, investments, and regulatory compliance.