24 March 2016
In the past decade Africa has woken up to take leadership on defining what its priorities are and how best to solve them.
The new president of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, formerly minister for agriculture in Nigeria, has launched 'Light Up Africa', one of five key priority areas identified for the bank's focus in the next 10 years. It is an ambitious plan to light up the continent; 1.1 billion people currently have no access to electricity and 600 million of them are in Africa, a quarter in Nigeria.
The bank plans to invest US$12 billion in different renewable energy projects, leveraging an additional US$40-US$60 billion from the private sector.
This got me thinking about the opportunities that exist in FM and how it could not only support government in Nigeria to manage the public lighting system to save costs, but also support initiatives to light up rural communities.
Public lighting is an area where FM can contribute to strengthening access to universal light and energy in Nigeria. One way would be to go into a private-public partnership with government - where public lights and their management will be outsourced to FM companies. This would involve a tremendous amount of resources to be invested to overhaul public lights as the fragmented nature of suppliers and poor maintenance have often resulted in different specifications and lifespan - from brand new, depending on the facilities, to those over 50 years old. There are likely to be a range, from energy-savers to those that are inefficient and environmentally damaging.
But the overhaul of the system of public lighting will be an opportunity to align all lamps to fit the needs of the users, and more importantly, provide longer-lasting, more efficient lighting. The advantages would be the minimal costs needed for regular maintenance, the savings in costs resulting in substantial savings for government, which could then be specifically used, for example, to provide alternative sources of energy for rural communities.
Having energy/electricity would improve not just their lives, but create opportunities for social and economic growth in all Nigerian communities.
Tunde Obileye is MD/CEO at Great Heights Property & Facilities Management, Nigeria