The federal government is set to legalise the establishment of the Electricity Management Services Limited, an agency that will do the yeoman’s job that Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission cannot perform.
To this effect, Reuben Okeke, director-general, National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), revealed that 8,000 new electricity workers would be required to replace aged and retiring ones and to bridge the gap in the power sector if government plans to actualise its dream of generating and sustaining 40,000 megawatts of electricity by the year 2020.
Therefore the institute is currently working with General Electric of the United States and Siemens of Germany to create national operational standards as well as get its electrical engineering training equipment and curricula up to global standard. “If we are working with these organisations and they lead us through to come up to their own standard, why would you have to send somebody to GE school in the United States instead of sending him here? This is why we are looking at our faculty, this is why we are looking at our curriculum, this is why we are looking at our training and equipment, simulators and electrical engineering training laboratory which we are about to establish in about three more locations,” Okeke said.
He added that, “We already have one in Kanji, a comprehensive one and a simulator in Ijora, Lagos, but we want to get it across the country in three other locations so that at least, if any private institute wants to come in it is free. We are talking of almost 8,244 new engineers that will be required, trained engineers, skilled engineers that will be required to support 40,000 megawatts by the year 2020.”
He noted that most of the private owners of the electricity generating and distribution companies, the private owners may not be able to afford to establish their own training school hence the need to partner with NAPTIN to provide them with world class training.
He further pointed out that there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of power accidents and equipment failure in the nation’s electricity sector as a result of the expansive trainings and re-trainings undertaken by the Institute for workers in the sector.
“Since we started in 2009, we have been able to train about 5,244 of those who are in PHCN, and when you talk about PHCN you are talking about almost the entire power sector because PHCN is almost about 95 per cent of the power sector in Nigeria.
“Before we started this training, the newspapers were filled daily with reports of power accidents and failure of equipment, and it was rampant. This means that even though the level of generation got up to 4,500mw, if people are not getting this power it would be of little or no consequence how much power you generate. So, for you to get the 4,500mw to those who need it, a lot of things have to take place and the biggest of them all is manpower.”
He added that, “failure of equipment has reduced, rate of accidents both to customers and staff has reduced and we can conveniently affirm that the training that we are doing has had a direct impact on the improvement in this area and I can tell you that that must have been one of the things that gave us a global recognition that we are talking about so it has impact but we are not yet there.
“First of all, employment in the power sector has not started, we are dealing with those who are already in and like you know majority of them are retiring so we have huge manpower gap.”
Okeke explained that in the era of privatisation, NAPTIN is going to be made to be a commercial entity that will fend for itself over time, adding that the Institute would have bigger pressure in terms of volume of those that will be demanding for its services.
“The role we are going to play is going to be greater because the new owners of the successor companies that are coming in under privatization will still have to work with skillful staff, those who can make use of their hands and their heads to keep up their investment. The private owners of these entities know very well the importance of training and re-training much more than when it was in the hands of government.
“For them to run their investments and make profits, they will need skilled workforce and if you compare what it will cost you to take a potential engineer probably to the United Kingdom to get the skill and what it will cost you to send a potential engineer to NAPTIN to obtain the same skill, then you will choose to come to NAPTIN,” he added.
He added that, “Obviously, NAPTIN cannot do it alone but the government is supporting us, the minister is supporting us and every hand is on deck to give us and expand our capacity to give the best training possible.”
“We are trying to ensure that at least by the end of 2014, we should be able to have a turnout of at least 2,000 workers that will support the sector which is fast growing. This is the agenda of Mr. President and NAPTIN has been given that mandate through our minister to ensure that we take ownership of providing skills for power workers in the country.”