Stakeholders in the electricity industry have expressed concern over local content development in the pre-paid meter production industry and asked that Federal Government should redefine its current position in stimulating investment in the sector.
They came up with this position at the graduating ceremony of students who attended critical studies on Printed Circuit Board, PCB, at the MOMAS Metering School, MMS, in Ogun State.
To further boost electricity meter usage and encourage local content in the sector, the Momas Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company Ltd. (MEMMCOL), on its part called on the Federal Government to increase its support and encouragement to indigenous meter manufacturers, to bridge the nation’s metering gap.
Mr Kola Balogun, Chairman, MEMMCOL, made the appeal in his remarks at the graduation ceremony of 10 youths on a five-week PCB on Thursday.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) said that the country’s metering gap currently stands at over five million.
Balogun said that encouraging and allowing consumers to acquire meters on their own would spring up more investment in metering industry.
The indigenous electricity meters manufacturer also called on the government to license meter manufacturers to bridge the metering gap.
According to him, the federal government must continue to encourage local companies sufficiently or allow consumers to be able to buy meters on their own.
“If they can buy meters on their own, we will be able to invest.
“This means we should be licensed and most of the enterprises that are sustainable today are licensed enterprise.
“License meter manufacturers, so that we will be able to reach more users,” he said.
He also advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and development banks to seek ways of directly funding manufacturers, saying thst it the surest path to reducing unemployment in the country.
Speaking on the training course, he said the PCB fabrication design had never been done in any of the higher institutions or skill acquisition centres in the country.
He pointed that the idea behind the training course was to reposition Nigerian youths for the global digital economy.
“We want to represent our youths, especially those in the science domain to be able to key into global Artificial Intelligence (AI) space.
Balogun said: “Nigerians are known to be users of computers and telephone, but we do not manufacture these things.
“We are using this platform to be able to train youths to design these digital technologies and the fundamental foundation of designing electronic device is the PCD.
“The PCD is where you plug all your components to do the magic,” he added.
According to him, each of the graduands is a macro business enterprise as a unit and has the capacity to design and fabricate for all the global digital industries across the globe.
“They are digital entrepreneurs and engineers and can now fabricate PCB and it is the heart of any electronic device.
“Our next agenda is to write to most of the universities to send in some of their representatives,” Balogun emphasised.
He said that the company’s efforts in empowering youths and women with skill acquisition, had attracted grant from the German government to establish a skill acquisition institution.
“The grant is for establishing institution for skill acquisition, which PCB will be part of the courses we are going to run.
“We have a database for all our students, to ensure that they comply with all the regulations in their curriculum.
“So, this will help them hold on to the discipline that is required to sustain what they have learnt.
“The setback we are having today is that most of the youths are losing their virtues and character that drives good knowledge.
“We are always preaching virtue, discipline and attitudinal change for us to be able to sustain the knowledge we are imparting on these youths,” he said.
Also speaking, Dr Waheed Olagunju, former Managing Director of the Bank of Industry, BOI, and Chairman, One Innovation Hub, said that Nigerians needed to be well educated, skillful and healthy to eradicate poverty in the country by 2030, pointing out that the training speaks to the skill acquisition aspect.
Olagunju said: “For any nation to be productive, it needs to be skillful and the skills being imparted will enable them navigate the world better.
We are in a knowledge based economy and PCDs are the heart of electronics.
“If we are able to produce PCDs, we will be able to produce anything electronics.
“This would go a long way to helping us achieving our objective of being a smart city and a smart city will play a critical role in driving the Nigerian economy.
“This is to enable Nigeria play an active role in the international arena that is being driven by the fourth industrial revolution.”
He noted that skill acquisition is very important for Nigeria to achieve its development aspiration as a community and as a country.
Also, speaking, Prof. Abiodun Musa, Vice Chancellor of Summit University Offa, Kwara State, commended the school and that the University is proposing to establish Digital Engineering and Artificial Intelligence department in the school to further promote the partnership the University has with the metering schoo.
One of the graduands, Mr Lawal Kolawole, commended MOMAS Group for the initiative, while also calling on other corporate bodies to emulate the initiative to digitalise the Nigerian economy.
Kolawole said: “We are thought effective basic components of PCB and the installation.
“We are exposed to so many applications and appliances to electrical installations and telecommunications systems solutions.
“We are going to impact positively on our community when we return to Offa in Kwara State especially based on what we have been taught here,” he said.
The company has trained and graduated over 1,000 youths in various specialties of the power sector from 2018 to 2022.