I foresee a tremendous force that unleashes the potential of Nigeria’s economy.” – Rumundaka Wonodi, CEO of Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading
I have a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, and after graduating, I started a career in engineering consulting, specifically in infrastructure – stormwater drainage designs, waste management with some structural design. I later transitioned to construction and some entrepreneurial ventures. I quickly realized that I needed more skills to navigate the business world and decided to go back to school to get an MBA.
Post-MBA, I was a J Olin Research Fellow at Yale University and analyzed the deregulation of U.S. network industries with a focus on gas and electricity markets. Then I took a position as a power deal originator at Constellation Energy Commodities Group. Since 2009, I have been active in the Nigerian power industry, first as Director Commercial at Geometric Power, then headed the Presidential Task Force on Power Reform, which led to my being appointed to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading PLC(“NBET”).
The MBA from Yale has been the bedrock of my career. At Yale, I took a strategy course in deregulation. This course inspired my interest in studying change within the power sector. Currently, the Nigerian power industry is undergoing a major transformation and NBET is one of the change agents. My experience in the Yale classroom and subsequent research and trading experience have all been very helpful for the work I do now.
I would like in the short term to see many of the privatization transactions close, meaning that our Power Purchase Agreement has become a truly bankable document that can spur investment in the sector.
I foresee a tremendous force that unleashes the potential of Nigeria’s economy. I believe that this will happen once the privatization is done and all settles down (mark my words, it’s not going to come easy!)
Be bold, look at the returns on investments, and take another look at the size of the market now and growth opportunities for the future. This is the time.
At this point because of the uniqueness of the terrain (and we are working to make it same as everywhere in the globe), it makes sense to have a local partner. Of course, foreign investors need to thoroughly vet and conduct due diligence on their potential local partner. Foreign investors can start this process by seeking help from a reputable consulting firm, legal firm or accountants. The bi-national Chambers of Commerce is another good resource.
Nigeria is a land of unmined opportunities: power, agriculture, health care, refining and mining, but the best opportunities for an investor are where he/she has the competence and experience.
The toughest challenge now is power (if you are thinking input cost) and the other could be securing permits required to operate. It’s too complicated from what investors tell us and at times not consistent. Information is also hard to obtain.
Misconception on corruption is very common and I do not want to dwell on it. Another misconception is that most people in government, especially the technocrats, are just that in name. A lot of us are proud of the work we do and we work hard and efficiently. The government can be responsive to genuine investors.