Huge infrastructure deficit in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy is a positive for many who know how to exploit opportunities. This is why South African engineer Nhlanhla Maphalala has decided to visit Nigeria and neighbouring Ghana on a week-long Outward Trade and Investment Mission starting from 19th March.
Maphalala says the mission presents an opportunity for his company Isivuvu Technical Solutions to take advantage of trade and investment opportunities available in both countries, even as he forms partnerships in the realm of engineering, energy generation and transmission.
“Most power and electricity transmission infrastructure in Africa presently operates at a fraction of installed capacity, owing to insufficient maintenance and lack of modernisation. Across the continent, infrastructure such as power plants and transmission lines, is either disrupted, damaged or non-existent. However, investment in energy infrastructure is critical to the continent reaching its economic potential and exploiting its current growth trend,” says Maphalala, stressing that Isivuvu Technical Solutions wants to play a role in the expansion and delivering access to electricity in Africa.
In Nigeria, about 80 million people lack access to electricity. The figures are not as bad in Ghana where 82.5 percent of the population had access to electricity by 2016.
Nigeria’s power sector has struggled for decades and the privatisation of the sector which was expected to ensure a turnaround has not lived up to expectation. Last December, five out of the electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) in the country failed to pay completely for electricity worth over N16.2 billion ($45 million) delivered to them by the Generation Companies (GenCos).
Maphalala, whose company Isivuvu provides support to many of the engineering, procurement, construction and managerial services undertaken by most of the successful companies in South Africa, is hoping Isivuvu would be able to participate in any ongoing projects in Nigeria and Ghana, a country targeting universal access to electricity by 2020.
“We have learnt that there are numerous infrastructure development projects in Ghana and Nigeria and our main objective of travelling there is to explore possibilities of participating in these projects and penetrate the West African region through these two strategic countries,” says Maphalala.
He adds that meeting the demands for Africa’s critical energy infrastructure is in the spotlight, and collaboration and sharing of resources between neighbouring countries can greatly increase the effectiveness of their power sectors and go a long way to reducing overall costs.
“We need to align ourselves regionally. Regional integration needs to be looked at right down to the consumer level. The introduction of cross border projects can provide great economies of scale to the African continent. Critical infrastructure changes the economy from an employment perspective, and a key enabler and the rest follows. Supplying good infrastructure also makes us more competitive at a global level. Achieving development impact through increased access to electricity requires countries to mobilise private investments,” he adds.