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Promoting Investment In Renewable Energy Through Enhanced Skills Acquisition

There is growing emphasis in skill development, especially in Nigeria’s energy transition programme.

As supply from the national grid fluctuates and electricity tariff sustains upward review, renewable energy sources have presented themselves as huge opportunities not only for households but small businesses.

All over the word, electricity remains at the fulcrum of socio-economic development, especially as it relates to quality of life and the standard of living of every citizen.

Regrettably, Nigeria places herself among countries with the worst economy as evidenced in its poor living standard.

In 2021, the World Bank in a fact sheet titled Power Sector Recovery Programme disclosed that epileptic power supply costs businesses in Nigeria about $29 billion yearly.

The bank’s practice manager, West and Central Africa Energy, Ashish Khanna, in his presentation said: ‘Businesses in Nigeria lose about $29 billion annually because of unreliable electricity.

Nigerian utilities get paid for only half of the electricity they receive.’More worrisome is the paltry less than 5,000 megawatts generated by the country’s power sector for a population of over 200 million continues to sink the country deeper.

It was for this reason and many more to reverse this ugly trend and put the country on adequate electricity availability footing that the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), recently organised a summit in Lagos and Abuja with the theme: “Continuous Professional Development: The Key to Unlocking Power Sector Potential”.

The summit identified and proffered solutions to some of the constraints confronting the power sector, especially lack of adequate manpower and poor training of personnel and what the agency is doing to bridge some of these shortcomings.Established in 2009 under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (FMPW&H) in the year 2009, NAPTIN was created with a mission to train skilled professionals required in the power industry and other related sectors.

In fulfilling the desire to ensure adequate, reliable and sustainable electricity supply for socio-economic development and nation-building, NAPTIN became poised to providing the needed training to the DisCos, GenCos, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Rural Electrification Agency (REA) amongst others locally.

Also, for Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA), West African Power Pool (WAPP) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) amongst others internationally.

NAPTIN also provides training to public and privately owned entities and over the years has trained personnel of reputable firms such as Guinness Nigeria Plc, Sahara Group – Nigeria, NETCO Plc., (a subsidiary of NNPC) amongst others. Notably, NAPTIN, in collaboration with Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA), West African Power Pool (WAPP) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has trained personnel of the Volta River Authority – Ghana, Grid Company (Gridco)–Ghana and the Liberia Electricity Corporation – Liberia.

Accessing Electricity Via Renewable Energy The director general of NAPTIN, Mr. Ahmed Bolaji Nagode, at the Lagos summit, disclosed that it has deepened  investments in the renewable energy sector through robust training of  efficient workforce for the power sector.

Nagode explained that the need to explore other sources of electricity generation outside the national grid which included solar energy and other forms of renewable energy informed the decision of the NAPTIN to develop a robust training strategy for renewable energy.

The NAPTIN boss said the agency’s focus in the area of renewable energy was more concentrated around solar PV under the Nigeria Energy Support Programme initiative, a bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Germany being handled by GIZ. He disclosed that, NAPTIN has been able to come up with four critical areas in renewable energy development for Nigeria which included; Solar PV installation and maintenance, solar PV supervision which he said is an advanced stage of solar PV installation and maintenance, mini grid design aimed at putting up off grid solar systems and energy efficiency to be able to manage the quantum of energy available.

He maintained that all the above highlighted  aspects of renewable energy development were targeted at attaining energy sufficiency for the country in a bid to build the skill of young Nigerians to be able to install and maintain solar PV among other areas of renewable energy.

He said, NAPTIN, working with GIZ, has been able to build world class curriculum in these four areas of renewable and will also be training young Nigerians across the six geo- political zones to empower  to be able to install and maintain solar PV because that is the future of energy.‘’

As we gather today to celebrate our collective achievements, we are also mindful of the power of this community of alumni to unlock power sector potentials. As an integral part of our institute’s legacy, our alumni’s accomplishments have made us immensely proud. This event is an opportunity that is key to harnessing our collective strengths as NAPTIN alumni. Indeed, our goal here is to chart a new course for the future of NAPTIN alumni towards making contributions to the development of the Nigerian Power sector.

“We have chosen the theme of “Continuous Professional Development: The Key to Unlocking Power Sector Potentials” for this event as it is a topic that is close to our hearts. As you all know, the power sector is one of the most critical sectors in our country, and it is one that should constantly evolve to cater for the demands of National Development.

“Our research has shown that by Unlocking the potentials of the sector through CPD we can reliably have a pool of dedicated professionals who will lead the sector in Keeping up with the changing market needs,” he pointed out.

Deputy director, Training Programme, NAPTIN, Engr Abdulahi Aliu Sambo, added that the activities of NAPTIN have gone beyond Nigeria as some of its facilitators are training others outside the country.

Sambo said Nigeria’s power sector is bedeviled by a lot of challenges which is preventing it from reaching commercial viability.

He listed some of the challenges to include; low investment, decaying infrastructure, huge debt, regulatory uncertainty, insufficient transmission and distribution facilities, gas supply and poor management.

But despite all these challenges, he said, the sector has huge potential as a result of the large deposit of oil and gas to grow the sector but yet untapped as the country was still battling with about 5,000MW.

Responding, some of the Alumni lauded the effort of NAPTIN, saying the knowledge gained during their training with the institute has helped them to make exploits while breaking new grounds in their various work stations.They said NAPTIN should not rest on its oars but strive to ensure that it has a robust relationship with the various training institutions, Universities, Polytechnics to develop curriculum that will meet the day-to day need of the power sector.

Nagode, at the Abuja edition of the summit, further disclosed that NAPTIN) has begun training of electricity companies across Africa to address capacity gaps and revolutionise energy on the continent.

The director-general said South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Ghana, Liberia and others had been trained. Speaking  in Abuja at a programme hosted by alumni of the institute, which focused on the need to unlock potentials in Nigeria’s power sector, Nagode advised the new administration to consolidate projects and scout for new investors.He said, the move to empower utilities was critical to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), besides foreign exchange generation for Nigeria.

He submitted: “For us, we are working with France to transform vocational training in the power sector. That’s very key because the government has seen the need to build skills and provide jobs. The then President Muhammadu Buhari administration has done well in that regard. I must admit that there is potential in renewable energy. But there is a big gap in human capital and that’s a source of concern. Government is trying, but we have to do more.“I must say that the training at NAPTIN is world-class, and we are a centre of excellence in Africa.“We have trained staff of Malawi and South Africa. We just concluded training for 100 staff of the Mozambique electricity industry. We are training staff in Angola and we are starting another in Liberia in the second week of June. We are not only training staff of Nigerian power utilities, but we are also generating foreign exchange for the country because the training we offer outside of Nigeria is paid for in foreign currency.

Capacity Building Interventions

Since its establishment, NAPTIN has trained over 15,000 personnel in the industry including DisCos, GenCos and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) amongst others locally.It has also trained members of the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA), West African Power Pool (WAPP) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) amongst others internationally.NAPTIN provides training on the following under-listed courses.

The running of these courses spans across the different Regional Training Centers. Some of the courses are provided in specific centre(s) depending on where the facilities required for the training are available, while the remaining courses are provided in all the centers either concurrently or at different scheduled period.The courses are classified into technical and Non-technical Courses. The Non-technical courses are mainly provided at two of the centers, these are: Main Campus in Abuja and RTC Akangba. The Technical courses are provided in all the centers except and they are categorized into short term and long term courses. All these courses are specifically designed for Generation, Transmission Distribution professionals   The NAPTIN Graduate Skill Development Programme(NGSDP) is a one year structured skills acquisition programme for graduate Engineers & Technologists in Electrical & Mechanical Engineering.The curriculum consists of a three month classroom work (run in modules) and a 9-month practical field experience at the requisite stations within the power chain. The NGSDP which was unveiled in September, 2012 has recorded the following achievements as tabulated below:Another is also the NAPTIN Technical Skills Acquisition Programme (NTSAP) which  is a skill acquisition programme for technicians, craftsmen and artisans (linesmen, cable jointers, electrical fitters, distribution substations operators).

The courses run between 6-9 months including practical field experiences. NAPTIN recently disclosed that there is presently a high demand for this category of trades in the power sector. In order to meet this demand,  NAPTIN said it is collaborating with the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) for a massive joint implementation. In delivering the programme, NOUN will provide the classroom facilities which are located in each state of the federation and also teach the soft skill (non-technical) aspect of the courses.             The federal government, through NAPTIN and sponsorship of AFD and the European Union, embarked on a project to enhance vocational training for the power sector in the country.

To achieve this, consultants were engaged to assist in reviewing and redeveloping the institute’s product packages to make them more relevant in the market and globally competitive. An important element of their work is the development of a framework for CPD. A major objective of the CPD is to assist NAPTIN’s alumni and other industry professionals to be abreast of global industry trends and innovations.

Source: Leadership