(Full address delivered by Onyeche Tifase, CEO of Siemens Limited, Nigeria at the 3rd Annual CEO Forum held in Lagos on October 7, 2015 where the focus was Youth Unemployment)
It gives me great pleasure to participate at the CSR Children’s 3rd Annual CEO Forum on Children’s Rights. Throughout the day, we heard various speakers and panelists explore the growing problems of youth unemployment and job creation and consider various solutions to sustainably address these trends across thriving sectors of the Nigerian economy. These are indeed critical topics to deliberate on because it is increasingly apparent that delayed resolution of these factors will serve only to severely impede Nigeria’s progress and economic growth.
Clearly, Nigeria’s transition to a more advanced economy will require a well educated, creative and highly skilled & efficient workforce. There is therefore urgent need to invest in innovative capacity building programs and modern infrastructure required to enhance practical knowledge, develop entrepreneurial skills and engender a workforce transformation. Also critical is collaboration between public and private sector to drive value adding invention & innovation and to develop young talents that are equipped to create the best answers for the toughest questions of our time.
To all indication, Nigeria’s leadership is headed in the right direction. Addressing corruption, insecurity and unemployment were 3 major priorities of President Buhari on assuming office. It is however apparent that Nigeria cannot undergo the full scale Industrial Revolution it so urgently needs to address these 3 issues, without reliable and affordable electricity. Indeed stable power is basic and essential for stimulating wealth creation via value adding industry & enterprise and thus eradicating poverty. Consequently, power sector development and industrial growth will remain critical focus areas for Nigeria’s Government and also the private sector.
On this basis, the Federal Government’s Roadmap for Power Sector Reform and Industrial Revolution Plan were both embarked on and engineered to set the course for achievement of critical targets and objectives. The delayed achievement of these ambitious objectives has however limited Nigeria’s development in agriculture and agro- allied industry, manufacturing, healthcare, education and rural development. Over 75 million Nigerians still lack access to stable and affordable electricity and the governments Vision 2020 target of achieving 40MW of electricity by 2020 remains far out of reach. Our low level of industrialization, not only impacts economic and social development by crippling manufacturing industries, but our excessive importation and use of expensive generators and other inefficient technologies also continues to put pressure on the environment and our country’s resources.
Siemens recognizes well that to achieve a vibrant economy and reposition Nigeria as the commercial hub of Africa, private sector must collaborate with government in the supply of a broader energy generation mix, seamless transmission and distribution grid, competent and skilled workforce, smart energy management systems and sound regulatory framework and policies. In this regard, Siemens is well placed to leverage it with leading edge digitalization, automation and electrification technologies and experience to drive improvements across the energy, infrastructure and industry space.
For over 40 years, Siemens has actively delivered technological solutions and services to help Nigeria’s markets meet rapidly growing demand. Siemens has made sustainable contributions through the planning, design, delivery and installation of efficient and innovative solutions and service across power generation, transmission & distribution, building construction, communication, healthcare and manufacturing.
In the areas of capacity development and training Siemens has invested in a Power Academy in Nigeria which to date has trained hundreds of Nigerians. Just last year Siemens entered into a formal collaboration with the Lagos State Electricity Board to train young Nigerian engineers and prepare them for employment in the power utilities and industry markets. These young engineers will assume key positions in organizations around the country and take responsibility for setting standards and strategies that ensure power systems and industrial processes are designed, operated, serviced and managed effectively.
Siemens has a power generation footprint in Nigera that includes major projects such as the 414MW Geregu Phase I, 434MW Geregu Phase II and the 276MW Afam V power plants. Today, Siemens is positioned to build many more. With the recent signing of the World Bank guarantees for the 450MW Azura-Edo Independent Power Plant there is clear recognition of the Federal Government’s resolve to end stagnancy in the power sector and appreciation of private sector contribution towards achieving this.
Sustainability is a guiding principle for Siemens. Siemens has defined sustainability to mean acting responsibly on behalf of future generations to achieve economic, environmental and social progress. This guiding principle speaks directly towards a desired objective of a sustainably industrialized Nigeria. Our environmental portfolio offers solutions that enable the efficient generation of electricity, such as our highly efficient combined power plants which can achieve efficiency ratings in power production of more than 60%. In manufacturing, Siemens industrial motors, drives, automation and control technologies can reduce energy consumption by up to 70%,
To optimize the link between sustainable and efficient energy provision and responsible industrialization, Siemens can tap into experiences it has taken in advanced economies towards ensuring socioeconomic development and growth. This way, we learn from mistakes made and can plan towards Nigeria’s future using more customized solutions and leveraging a broader view.
In summary, Siemens is committed to providing long-term solutions that benefit societies like Nigeria where we operate. We apply high management standards and
strategically focus our participation in activities where our solutions, offerings, resources and teams can make a meaningful difference.
I commend CSR Children for its work in constantly bringing attention to the fundamental and deep issues plaguing Nigeria’s development. While assessing and presenting on issues faced relating to power, insecurity, unemployment, capacity development and industrial growth we will start to devise methods that effectively address these issues and improve the prospects of future generations.
In closing, I encourage representatives of all organizations here present, to proactively participate in developing the necessary solutions to address social, economic and infrastructural challenges being faced in Nigeria today.