Mathew S. Mendis is the Senior Vice President, Government Services, Nexant, based in Washington D.C, where he leads Nexant Government Consulting Business Practices. In this interview with OKE PETER, he speaks on Nexant’s mission in Nigeria among other issues. Excerpts
Can you tell us about the USAID Power Africa, what is the program about?
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Power Africa is a program designed by the United States government to bring together world’s top companies, political leaders, and financial institutions to help overcome Africa’s energy crisis. It is increasing energy across the continent by supporting innovative, effective and sustainable developments. Power Africa include the collective resources of the United States government, the World Bank, the Africa Unions’ New Partnership for Africa’s Development, the United Nations’ Sustainable Energy for All initiative, the International Renewable Energy Agency, the government of Sweden, the government of Norway, the government of Canada, the United Kingdom Department for International Development and more than 120 private companies.
What is Nexant doing in Nigeria?
Nexant is a globally recognized software, consulting and service leader that provides the solution to utilities, energy, enterprises, chemical companies and government entities worldwide. We are currently working in Nigeria with the USAID Power Africa as one of the contractors working in the power sector. In this regard, our company is assisting clients who are trying to get power sector deals financed and provide additional capacity in the area of generation. Sectors that we are currently working in Nigeria include generation; we also assist in finding ways of financing generation projects to provide gas supply to these projects, to ensure that power projects in the country are properly financed. We are also working in the transmission sector, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to assist them improving their operations and we are also working with the regulatory agencies as well.
Can you mention some of the projects you have successfully executed in Nigeria?
We have worked for the USAID Power Africa in Nigeria, we are carrying out some projects in the oil and gas and power sector, specifically, we are working in partnership with some financial institutions and engineers with US trade development agency to get this done. Nexant, through the Power Africa transaction, has provided assistance to the AZURE projects; in the area of power projects financing, we are one of their advisers in the AZURE deal through the USAID, and we are providing assistance on solar power projects.
Are the country regulations and laws friendly to your business?
Basically, we are here to help Nigeria to set up laws and regulations that will attract investors to the power sector, and we are seeing how to improve this relationship and to get the business improved through Nexant Private Sector Business through project financing. Nigeria is an important country for us, and we are helping the country to make it attractive to investors. We are here to help stabilize the system.
Nigerians are complaining they are not getting light, while DISCOs are saying that they cannot provide what they do not have? How do you think your organization can help the government to provide the workable solution to the incessant power problem?
Nexant’s main job is to advise the government on how to effectively manage the generation, transmission, and distribution to customers. We offer utility advisory services to the power sector. In terms of helping the Nigerian government solving the power problem, we can bring the knowledge we have in terms of what it takes to have a utility system of efficient operations that can provide stable light and to make customers get value for money. All we need is to provide constant fuels supply to the generation companies, because if there is no fuel, they cannot generate power, this will help the country to generate more electricity, once the generation is stabilised and the transmission is capable of transmitting power to the distribution channels, people will have access to stable power supply. We have hardware associated with generation as well as software that helps in managing the dispatch of electricity, we have latest technology devices and the human capacity needed to manage the transmission system. We are currently working with the TCN for example on how to procure good equipment at reasonable prices, working with them to install equipment. Similarly on the distribution side, we work with distribution companies in the United States to help them improve the delivery of electricity to customers, we are one of the leading firms in the United States and we have software working for smart metres we also have programmes targeting to assist in improving their customers relations as they are paying for power to get value for money. So far so good, we have brought many US practices into the Nigeria system just to ensure effective service delivery. With our services in the power sector, the epileptic power supply will soon be a thing of the past in Nigeria.
What are your plans and projections for the future of power sector in Nigeria?
I came to Nigeria as the Senior Vice President, Nexant, to put in place what we have done in the United States to assist the Nigerian government and the private sector to solve its power problem, because we believe that as Nigeria’s power sector grows, there is going to be demand for more services for us at Nexant and my objective is to make sure that the sector is growing by replicating what we have done in the US here and bring some of the software solutions and technologies to Nigeria. As you can see that power sector is complex, especially with addition of solar projects that helps in generating power with the help of light during the day, and the gas turbine, we want to make sure that power fluctuation during the day stops, there must be constant power supply, because unsteady power supply is having negative effect on the transmission system. In the United States, we have the significant solar generation that is tied to the grid and we have a team of experts that are working day and night to ensure that Nigeria power sector is changed for better. I believe that Nigeria has the natural resources needed to expand its power source like gas, hydro and solar, what is needed in Nigeria is an enabling environment in the power sector that will allow private investors to come here to invest and contribute to the development of the power sector and Nigerian people are anxious for power. With over 4000 megawatts, Nigeria has the lowest per capita consumption of electricity in the world.