Africa Connected

Nigeria, Doubling up on Power

When Tonye Cole suddenly found himself unemployed in 1996, instead of seeking a position to fill in his preferred sector, he used his free time to create his own company. Since then, the conglomerate has started to bridge the gaps and has set out plans to double the capacity of their power plant. But, whilst the Sahara Group produces roughly 4000 megawatts, it is estimated that Nigeria needs at least 75,000 megawatts of power – leaving significant room for other companies to come on board.

Not one company is able to provide all of that, so we’d have to bring in different energy mixes, different sources, and different companies.

Tonye Cole, Co-founder and Group Executive Director of Sahara

Touching on the country’s regulatory framework, Cole explains that whilst it is improving, for a long time policies were created by people who especially understood trade. This meant that the policies that were introduced were short-term and allowed for traders to shift from one commodities to another without any problem. On the other hand, with the same policies in place for traders and entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs who looked toward long-term improvement and creating value were not faring well.

They are mutually dependent on each other, but you cannot make the same policy to cover both.

Tonye Cole, Co-founder and Group Executive Director of Sahara

Today, with new policy makers coming on board, the government has paid particular attention to entrepreneurship. And, with that in mind, the idea of making business easier is driving home and causing people to look beyond government by bringing in external entrepreneurs to work along the value chain.

We’re now seeing people come into the policy space that have begun to understand that entrepreneurship is key.

Tonye Cole, Co-founder and Group Executive Director of Sahara

Whilst the lack of refinery capacity has long been a problem in need of addressing, the country has noted more refineries being built by private initiatives in addition to those in the government space. Moreover, the Nigerian government is working toward getting the private and public sector to work together, and ‘creating an environment for other refineries to come in.’

We need more refineries and that’s a fact.

Tonye Cole, Co-founder and Group Executive Director of Sahara

Addressing the common concern of the country’s over reliance on oil, Cole says that it could possibly be the best thing that has happened to Nigeria. The collapse of the commodity prices has forced the country to look differently at the same problem – with some venturing into agriculture and others working toward developing an alternate economy in the digital sector.

Click here to access the Africa Connected portal or click below to watch Nikiwe's full chat with Tony Cole...


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