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Engineers advocate increased investment in infrastructure

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To boost infrastructural development, the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE), has called on the federal government and other stakeholders to ensure sufficient inflow of capital into the energy value chain and address the limitations to meter asset scheme in the country.

It urged the power distribution companies to prioritize processes and initiatives geared towards adding value and fostering customer satisfaction.NAE President, Prof. Fola Lasisi who made the call during a public lecture in Lagos, explained that increase investment in the sector was necessary for Nigerians to live a better life.

He maintained that power distribution companies and others in the value chain must ensure that there is constant supply for the people to increase industrial development. Prof. Lasisi stated that if the problem of power disruption were solved, many of the social menace bedeviling the society would be resolved, and more Nigerians will be gainfully engaged in activities that could put food on their tables.

“As part of its contributions to national development, the group would continue to provide input and leadership in national technological issues and policies at the highest level possible, through contributions to science, engineering and technology ideas in Nigeria and by extension, globally”, he said.

In a lecture, ‘Building a sustainable and viable electricity distribution network’ the chief executive officer, Ikeja Electric Distribution Plc, Dr. Anthony Youdeowei said the approach to transforming the power business should be hinged on deploying technology to improve operational efficiency, service delivery and building a customer-centric business.

Youdeowei said the industry requires huge investment in infrastructures to improve supply. However, he disclosed that the gains couldn’t be realized immediately, but in the nearest future.He observed that power distribution companies lacked the capacity to meter all customers hence, the need to involve third parties in that specific role. He stressed that government should provide moratorium for investors in that value chain rather than increasing import duties on meters, which he observed, was detrimental to progress in the sector.
“There is need to redefine the distribution business and improve customer metering. Proper and complete privatization by letting market forces decide and ensuring that there is inflow of capital into the entire energy value chain. Amazon, Uber were initially loss making but attracted huge investments because the numbers and the projections were believable,” he stated.

“Project transparency and integrity in all dealings with customers and leverage cutting-edge technology in improving and optimizing business processes is important. Also, we need to deploy technology in areas of the business where there is heavy dependence on human intervention.”He reiterated that at the time of privatizing the power sector in 2013, the industry was faced with, DT metering with only 244,187 postpaid customers meters read, and ageing / non-resilient distribution network equipment, abandoned projects, poor customer and staff engagement.

Others include, incomplete and unreliable customer data, poor energy accounting, and high level of outstanding debts especially among MDAs, inadequate training and human capital development as well as low IT application across the business.

In a remark, the deputy governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Folashodun Shonubi, an engineer, harped on improving the power sector through reorientation of people involved in the power value chain. He said engineering is not the problem but those involved in the processes of the sector.Shonubi also tasked the professionals to groom young engineers through practical exposure and exchange of experiences that would prepare them for the future.


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