Power sector vocational training:  France Agency, FG agree on $46m financing arrangement

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The Federal Government of Nigeria has obtained a Financing arrangement of aggregate of $46m from the Agence Française De Development (AFD) to enhance vocational training in Nigeria.

The Managing Director National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) Mr Ahmed Nagode in an exclusive interview with the Publisher, Nigerian NewsDirect Dr Samuel Ibiyemi made this disclosure.

The project which places NAPTIN the target agency under this project   has commenced and will involve activities such as development and setting up of training assets, improvement of NAPTIN network of Regional Training Centres (infrastructure, curricula development and equipment) and an overhaul of governance and organizational reform.

NAPTIN which has for almost 10years after its establishment, the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) has successfully positioned itself as the training Institute for the power sector, creating opportunities to train young, engineers, skilled workers and professionals in the power sector.

He said, “over the years, NAPTIN has been able to supply the Industry with the skills needed and more or less acts as a pool from which sector participants draw personnel from, and this in turn makes NAPTIN the future of skill production for the Nigerian Power Sector.”

He then disclosed that NAPTIN has no doubt covered a lot of ground in providing skills for the Nigerian Power Sector and that NAPTIN definitely can do more than it is doing.

“The energy sufficiency level for the nation is not static and as such, it is difficult to nod our head and say we have done enough,” he said.

Mr Nagode further stated that NAPTIN is trying to align itself with the vision and roadmap of President Muhammadu Buhari under the direction offered by the  Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who is nurturing a suitable environment for Recovery of the Power Sector in three phases including :Incremental power; Stable power and Uninterrupted power.

He said following the privatization exercise and as a result of restructuring in the sector, a number of good technical hands were lost and not re-engaged. The rate of replacement is not in our view equal to the rate of exiting. Secondly, technology change in the industry demands continuous training and retraining. To keep abreast of this, utilities not only need to invest in training but need to be held to conform by law and policy to invest in the periodic training of their staff. These have to be done alongside deployment of these staff which means that they are working while at the same time receiving training.

The MD expressed that NAPTIN has continued to enjoy unprecedented support under the supervision of the Minister of Power, Works and Housing Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN).

He divulged that key amongst several issues that have provoked the Minister’s support are the issues of a National Power Sector Training Policy (NPSTP) and Manpower Audit of the Nigerian Power Sector, and these issues received priority placement at the last National Council on Power (NACOP) where NAPTIN received key directives to implement a tangible outcome.

“In addition, the issue of paucity of funds is the focus of extra-budgetary efforts such as the Federal Government loan taken for the sole purpose of enhancing vocational training delivery in Nigeria under which NAPTIN remains the main beneficiary.

Under the Minister’s Leadership, NAPTIN received recognition as Centre of Excellence (COE) by the West African Power Pool (WAPP) & Association of Power Utilities of  (APUA). This is a fall out of the 2017-2019 Medium Term Sector Strategy (MTSS) goals as articulated by the Federal Ministry of Power Works & Housing. From her recognition as a COE, NAPTIN has trained over 600 members of the workforce from African Utilities like GRIDCO & VRA of Ghana, KENGEN of Kenya, TCN and DISCO in Nigeria. This has generated financial transactions to the tune of 826,216 EUR and over N100 million Net profit for the Treasury Single Account (TSA) of the Federal Government,” he said

He then suggested that stakeholders need to come together more often in order to consolidate on the gains of the efforts championed by the Minister.

“To translate the gains of the current synergy we enjoy into dividends for our country’s development, we need to focus on the common purpose of providing reliable electricity. We need to look beyond our differences, be conscious of our Interdependence and explore every avenue to shoot up available megawatts; looking towards all available options including Renewables,” he said.

While speaking on the challenges NAPTIN is currently facing, the MD mentioned a few. He talked about insufficient funding for infrastructure upgrade and development and upgrade of trainers’ skills; the absence of a concerted Training Policy for the sector

However, these are currently being addressed and will be overcome in the not-too-distant future among other challenges.

In response to the way forward for NAPTIN, he said there is a need to get the buy-in of Sector participants and stakeholders to come together and Promote NAPTIN as the Sector’s trainer. He said following Privatization, some DISCOs toyed with the idea of setting up their training institutions and stopped seeking services of NAPTIN.

“We do not object to the idea of setting up alternative, parallel or additional training institutions, we need to understand that there is need for maintenance of standard did to create industry standard, need to run standardized training programs, need to agree on criteria for accreditation, need to allow agencies to operate in their respective areas of specialization (DISCOs should remain in the business of electricity distribution, while the trainer is assisted to undertake training activities)

“It is not out of place for power sector stakeholders to utilize NAPTIN as a common project where resources are pooled together under a workable and acceptable governance structure. NAPTIN’s services could then be accessed as a shared service. This will inevitably improve affordability and accessibility to NAPTIN’s services for Power sector Stakeholders,” he said.