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Redefining metering solutions in Nigeria


kola-newMomas Systems Nigeria Limited, an indigenous metering and information technology solutions provider with vision to be a leading technological metering solutions company committed to the provision of excellent services is the first indigenous company to introduce prepayment systems into Nigerian metering system. Engr. Kola Balogun, the Chairman of the company is a thoroughbred professional whose passion for the development of the country led him into manufacturing against the easy route of importation. He spoke on the Focus of a CEO in this interview with Nnamdi Nwokolo and Dayo Olorunlomeru.

What influence your choice of setting up the company?
THE motivation to set up this organization was inspired by the need to make Nigeria a country that is technologically advanced to meet its own technological needs. We can no longer be dependent on other countries for our technological requirements. So, through a systematic approach and strong belief in our ability to create value; the company was formed to develop a world class standard range of products working together to provide electricity metering solutions using the latest technologies in design and production. We are the first indigenous company to deploy, install and manage prepayment metering solutions for the Power Holding Company of Nigeria and the company has executed several turnkey projects in the power sector with commendable successes and has carved a niche for itself as a robust service provider with competent and skilled manpower.

What has been the biggest challenge in running this organization?
Funding and the cost of funds are the biggest challenge most local manufacturers encounter in running their factories. Infrastructural challenge is also a big challenge that is militating against the proper development of the power sector. The one that makes my heart bleed is that Nigerians don’t believe in us. If we must grow our economy, we must begin to appreciate and patronize made in Nigeria products. However, our company has carried out extensive research over the years to understudy the various challenges undermining the power sector, most especially relating to the metering subsector. We have the pedigree to upscale service delivery in the power sector, most especially in the metering subsector and with our product offerings, our mission is to improve efficiencies in the power sector in the West African sub region and beyond through innovative products and services using cutting edge technologies.

In view of the craving for foreign products, can locally produced meters compete favourably with their foreign counterparts? If you can recall, it took us so many years to realize that made in Nigeria cables are the best in the world. Quality is not an issue because our products can compete favourably with any foreign product as Research and development is a key activity of our company whereas our primary responsibility is to develop metering solutions and improved metering products in the market, while making sure they are in compliance with the relevant international standards. The software department has in a short period produced several applications that have redefined metering solutions in Nigeria. As a local Nigerian player, we offer support and maintenance services with unequalled response times in the industry, in terms of upgrades and maintenance on agreed terms and conditions to distribution companies.

What happened to government promise of rolling out meters sometime ago?
There are several government efforts to roll out meters across the country but it’s being challenged by non availability of funds as well as policy inconsistency on the part of government. The government at the time did not do enough home work/research to establish the sustainability of the programme. What I want to advocate is that the government should draw out a template to encourage and patronize made in Nigeria meters as we have the capacity to bridge the gap in the metering sector. They should also encourage consumers to get their meters locally as they can be used as check meters to reduce the high incidence of estimation in the industry. On several occasions, we’ve been called upon to prepare for mass production of meters but unfortunately, there has not been any form of commitment in terms of contract on the part of government.

What’s your take on the tariff increase controversy?
The tariff increase is a necessity if we really want our electricity to be stable, sustainable and cost effective. The only difficulty I see is that the right thing should be done first. The first thing that needs to be done is that the DISCOs should ensure that all the consumers are metered. If all consumers are provided with meters, it will go a long way in boosting their confidence that they are paying for what they consume. The mistake is that you cannot increase tariff when the billings are estimated, it doesn’t make sense. In my own little finding, I discovered that our tariff is still relatively low when compared with most parts of the world. We need to get the tariff right which is the basis of peoples’ investment in the power sector. The irony is that if you generate enough power, the dilapidated infrastructure in terms of transformers and cabling will not allow you to distribute effectively. I urge the DISCOs that while they are upgrading their distribution channel, they should also upgrade their transformers, build new substations as well as change their cables and accessories as this will ensure quality and efficient supply of electricity.

How much of local content is in your operation?
We are a firm believer of the local content policy of the Federal Government and we have a one hundred per cent local content by employing young and enterprising Nigerians and equipping them adequately with requisite training locally and internationally. We have invested a lot of resources in our people through training and retraining as some of our engineers have been trained in India and in the United States of America to ensure they compete favourably with their counterparts anywhere in the world. I’ll urge the Federal Government to support more indigenous companies to excel because we have more to offer the nation than foreigners. In terms of the component parts, if our petrochemical plants and the steel sector are fully developed, 100% of the component parts will be procured locally.

Can you highlight some of the achievements of the organization?
Our wealth of experience in designing, supplying, installing and maintenance of machines, electrical materials and communication systems for organizations are quite commendable. We utilize products from the industry leaders to build low cost, state of the art Systems. Our achievements in the power sector in the last two decades cannot be rivaled as we pioneered the production of prepaid meters in the country. We also introduced silicon insulators in the network and we are the first to introduce statistical metering that audits transformers as well as the first to design feeder pillar in the country. Our contributions are there to speak for us. Our product profile include MEMMCOL’s single and three phase STS modular meters with compact configuration used for energy monitoring, billing and remote data collection over GPRS/GSM networks. Automated meter reading (AMR) metering eliminates inaccurate manual meter reading, improves operational efficiency for the utilities and provides convenience to the consumers. These meters were designed and manufactured with more than 50% local content.

What can government can do differently to help the industry?
We have about five indigenous meter manufacturing firms in the country and I believe that given the right support and patronage, a lot more will spring up and add value to the economy. For example, the CBN intervention for the sector was meant to help DISCOs to enhance their efficiency, ought to be tied to the manufacturers as a way of encouraging local production. The DISCOs are not helping matters as some of them resort to importation of meters rather than support or patronize local manufacturers. I implore the government to enact laws and policies that will protect local manufacturers as this will help in creating employment opportunities and stem the tide of youth restiveness. I advocate for capital punishment for importers especially food products. We have enough capacity and raw materials to produce what we need in the country.

What drives you?
The driving force is part of my commitment towards uplifting the service delivery within the power sector and we are resolute in reaffirming our dedication to the industry towards stepping up our efforts in ensuring that the power sector remains the game changer for the Nigerian economy.

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