The Land of Opportunity that is Nigeria
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” – Winston Churchill.
Stay in Nigeria for just a week, and you will no doubt be overwhelmed by all the things that are wrong with it and we as a people are certainly not backwards in lamenting all the issues that bedevil our daily existence.
I could go on and on, and I’m sure most Nigerians can very easily add to this list. Every year, thousands upon thousands of our brightest seek ways to leave the country for greener pastures in the West with the dream of escaping to a functional society where everything works. And yet at the same time, something rather strange is happening – thousands of foreigners and Nigerians in diaspora are flocking into the country seeking opportunities that they don’t have in their home countries- the very same countries that our youth will give almost anything to enter. The question is why?
They say if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
I first came to Nigeria in April 2013 and can still vividly remember arriving at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and being hit with a very strong sensation – chaos, orderly chaos. It was hot and humid, there were no air conditioners working, and when I finally arrived at the baggage reclaim section, the lights went out and we stood there in pitch darkness for 5 minutes. Welcome to Nigeria I thought.
And yet, whilst everyone else moaned and groaned, quite understandably, draped in sweat in the inhospitably hot and humid conditions, I was stood there in pitch darkness, with a broad smile across my face, and a sense of hope, and vindication. “This is a sign”, I thought. “There really is no light in Nigeria, mum wasn’t exaggerating at all”. You see, I’d come from London to launch Solynta Energy, a Solar Power company, as a practical solution to the legendary power problems of Nigeria I’d heard so much about from my mum. Within 20 minutes of arriving in the country, I had seen evidence of the problem first hand.
Lee Iacocca, the legendary former Chairman and CEO of Chrysler, responsible for bringing the company back from the brink of bankruptcy in the 1980’s, famously said, “we are continually faced by great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems”.
And what an insoluble problem the Power situation appears to be in Nigeria.
But, despite the huge scale of the problem, or perhaps because of it, the opportunities provided in the power space, particularly with renewables, is truly vast. Here’s a market with 60 million generators that need to be displaced, and an additional 70,000MW of rooftop solar that can be deployed across the country, delivering 24 hours of power to tens of millions of people.
I predicted in 2013 that by 2030, 75% of Nigerians would be receiving 24 hours power from Solar and was pretty much laughed at.Four years later, not so many people are laughing and in particular- the foreign investors who are now gearing up to invest vast amounts of money into the space to actualise the vision….
To be continued….