Nigeria’s power sector has undergone significant trajectory since the country’s independence which underscores its industrialization and economic growth.
This trajectory occasioned the construction of power plants, and related infrastructure, sector reforms and the transfer of assets to the successive companies of the defunct Power Holding Companies of Nigeria (PHCN) to private hands.
The beauty of the ongoing phase of the country’s power sector is the involvement of the private sector with requisite manpower and resources in the management of assets which were earlier overseen by the government in a lamentably lukewarm manner.
Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited (MESL) is one company whose entry into the country has brought about phenomenal contributions to power generation and the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
With a vision to be the recognized performance leader of the electric power industry in Nigeria and beyond, the company has etched its name in the annals of Nigeria’s power sector and in the revolution of the hydroelectric power business in Africa.
The company has set an uncommon pace in the execution of cutting edge, value-adding power business in line with its mission to generate and deliver electricity in a safe, reliable, efficient and most environmentally friendly manner.
Evolution Of Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited
Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited (MESL) was incorporated and licensed as a power generating company in 2011.
The Kainji and Jebba Hydropower Plants (HPP) with a total installed capacity of 1338.4 MW were acquired through a concession agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria in November 2013.
Situated 100km apart, with Kainji dam at the upstream of Jebba, the two hydro power plants, have installed capacities of 760MW and 578.4MW, respectively. Kainji was commissioned as Nigeria’s first Hydro Power plant in 1968, while Jebba Hydro Power plant was commissioned in 1985.
At takeover by MESL 11 years ago, the total available capacity of the two plants was 482MW-with Jebba at a capacity of 482MW while Kainji had deteriorated to the point that there was no generation at the time. However, presently, MESL proudly boasts of a combined available capacity of 1002MW while also acquiring other power plants in the country.
Inspite of the challenges the company faced when it initially acquired the plants, it has done very well in optimising power generation in Nigeria and delivering on the mandate of the Federal Government’s decision to privatise the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (“NESI”) in 2013.
Responsible for over 25 percent of the country’s power generation, the company maintains that its achievement so far is a testament to the fact that privatisation works as it has created an avenue for private sector investments in the industry, for the benefit of the economy.
Recovery, Expansion And Acquisition
The company has a medium-term strategic vision to achieve 3000MW through its capacity recovery and expansion programme.
The capacity recovery plan aims at bringing the two hydro power plants to the full installed capacity of 1338.4MW as established in the concession agreement with the Federal Government.
In this regard, at Kainji HPP, the rehabilitation of four units IG5, IG6, IG7 and IG12 with a combined capacity of 420MW has been completed. Unit IG9 with a capacity of 80MW is currently undergoing rehabilitation while discussions on units IG8 and IG10 with a combined capacity of 160MW have commenced with Power China.
In Jebba, the rehabilitation of two generating units-2G5 and 2G6-is in progress and would add 192.8MW to Jebba’s HPP existing capacity upon completion.
Upon completion, these projects will facilitate the addition of a combined capacity of 432.8MW from both plants which will be of immense benefit to the Nigerian national grid.
With respect to expansion projects, MESL has commenced the installation of two brand new turbines in the existing four open pits. The project is being executed by Power China and envisioned to be completed in 2026. At completion, the two units 1G3 and 1G4 costing the company USD 89 million, would provide an additional capacity of 220MW at Kainji hydropower plant.
On the 40 megawatts (MW) Kashimbilla hydropower plant in Taraba State, MESL, the concessionaire of the plant through a joint venture with Kashimbilla Power Limited, has affirmed its commitment to operating the plant in line with international best practices while also keeping to the terms of the concession agreement.
During the commissioning, the former president explained that the realization of the project demonstrated the Federal Government’s commitment to achieving the Electricity vision 30:30:30 which entails the supply of 30GW od electricity by 2030, with renewable energy contributing to at least 30% of the energy mix to accelerate the increase in access to electricity.
Besides,the Federal Government, last year announced Penstock Energy Limited, a subsidiary of MESL as the preferred bidder of the 700MW capacity Zungeru HPP, which is Nigeria’s second-largest hydroelectricity power station, after the 760MW Kainji Hydroelectric Power Plant.
This was followed by a ceremony at the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) on the 23rd January 2024 where the certificate of handover was presented to MESL’s Managing Director Engr. Lamu Audu thereby naming Penstock Energy Limited as the concessionaire of the Zungeru Hydropower plant for a concession fee of $70,000,251.00 for a period of 30 years.
The company has moved into the plant in readiness of its resolve to operate it exponentially for maximum impact on the nation’s power sector .There is also the ongoing construction of a 132Kv line which would radiate from Zungeru to Tegina in Niger State.
Nigeria will increase grid connected electricity from the current 12,200MW to about 13,000MW and move the total number of power plants on the grid to 27 on account of the coming on stream of the over the $1.3 billion Zungeru Power Plant.
Profitability, Shareholders’ Succour
The company has continued to maintain a profitability streak since 2018 when it hit N28.6billion in revenue. It attributes its success to the full repayment of the company’s acquisition loan of $170 million which enabled the company to optimise its profitability as a business.
Inspite of the challenges in the business environment staring the company in the face, it has managed to keep its head above water and given its shareholders the succour and requisite confidence to respond to their demands.
Investment In Technology
Realizing its position as the leading hydroelectric company in Africa and understanding the need to sustain its standing, Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited, has continued to put technology on the front burner.
Specifically, the company has invested hugely in technology and in state-of-the-art equipment to optimise operation and maintenance at both plants, such as the satellite-based technology, called the Inflow Forecasting System and Operational Tool Software (IFS/OPT) which help with flood management and projections of the flow of water into the dam reservoirs.
The company’s ambitious efforts on improved operations through investment in technology has continued to earn it uncommon recognitions from far and near.
The company has been invited to numerous fora for presentations on its operations. The International Hydropower Association and the World Bank have adopted MESL as a case study on best practices in Operations and Maintenance.
Besides,Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited,recently obtained certifications in ISO 9001:2015,ISO 14001:2015 and ISO 45001:2018 making its operations more efficient and environmentally friendly,in line with international standards.
The company said it will continue to maintain its position as the recognized performance leader in the power sector within the borders of Nigeria and beyond.
Human Capital Development
Because it recognizes the import of personnel in the long-term growth of the company, the company’s thrust on human development is unimpeachable.
The company said,its focus on staff welfare has been integral to the growth of MESL as employees now have a sense of ownership.
According to the company, MESL has put in place a share trust scheme where every employee becomes a beneficial owner of the company upon assumption of duty.
A senior official of the company, who confirmed this to Premium News, said the staff of Mainstream Energy Solution Limited, see the company as theirs and gear to invest their sweat in the sustainable growth of the company.
He added: “I would therefore say that the effectiveness of these programmes has driven productivity amongst staff and aided the growth of the business to where it is today”.
Another veritable tool the company employs to promote human capital development is constant training and retraining of its workforce.
Mainstream Training Academy was established in 2018 as part of MESL’s capacity development strategy.
The Academy provides courses and programmes designed in collaboration with subject matter experts in the power sector and other related fields.
These programmes help existing and new employees at MESL improve their knowledge, productivity and efficiency in their jobs. The Academy is also used to provide external training and support for the CSR programmes.
The academy now plays a pivotal role in capacity building, fostering strong partnerships with original equipment manufacturers like Siemens and Andritz.
The Executive Director, Corporate Services explained that the academy aims to incubate talent not only for Mainstream but for the broader Nigerian and international energy landscape. He further elucidated that the goal for 2024 is to tap into the expertise of retired staff aged 65-70 for the creation of a knowledge exchange platform.
Last year, the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mainstream Energy Academy to train 60 youth from the northeastern states of the federation for an 8-week electrical technicians training programme.
With almost N10billion spent on Corporate Social Responsibility by its humanitarian arm Mainstream Foundation since its inception in 2016, the company has metaphorically given a midas touch to the communities around its catchment area with a focus on health, education, environment and community empowerment.
The Foundation is funded through 1% gross monthly revenues from Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited
MESL is the only company today with a duly registered Foundation among the successor PHCN companies that seeks to engage directly with communities in ensuring that they are touched by various initiatives.
The Foundation aims at coordinating the humanitarian intervention of the company through its Corporate Social Responsibility while the company focus on its core business of generating electricity.
The Foundation executed 889 projects between 2016 and 2023 which has largely benefited different age groups in the communities. With the provision of cataract surgeries, general surgeries, portable water, classroom rehabilitation projects, construction of health centres and clinics, and a lot more, the Mainstream Foundation has left its footprints in the hearts of both the young and old.
Penultimate weekend,Mainstream Foundation organized three-day medical camp for free cataract in Yauri,Kebbi State.
A total of 414 patients were screened,112 cataract and four Pterygium surgeries were successfully done.No fewer than 138 patients were given drugs for various eye related ailments and 160 eye glasses were given free to people.
A senior official of MESL told Premium News that the company would continue to strengthen its humanitarian arm through increased support for the downtrodden in the society.
He added:”We brought relief and restored hope to the most vulnerable people in our society.They are happy and thankful while we give glory to God.
“Mainstream Foundation positively impacting lives.We will do more”
With its core value,teamwork, responsibility, innovation, integrity and passion,the company reiterates that they are focused on contributing to national development through ensuring the generation of electricity in a safe and reliable manner to meet Nigeria’s electricity demand.
MESL also intends to partner, with, ANDRITZ -an Austrian firm with several power projects to its name, to provide technical services as it works towards the exploration of green fields in Nigeria all in a bid to increase generation in the country.
With an installed capacity of 2082MW, Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited is currently the largest hydropower company in Africa. And in line with the words of the ED Corporate Services, Usman Umar, they are strategically working towards the achievement of 3000MW in the next four years.
The company’s projection also includes conscious tactics and strategies which were well articulated to take hydropower business to another level not only in Nigeria,but also across the continents.
Its fast-paced presence in the Africa’s power sector has placed the company in sound pedestal as well created a formidable in road for Nigeria to assert its presence in the global hydroelectricity business.
Observers have no doubt that MESL is playing its pivotal role in the sector admirably,while the company’s thirst for robust impacts have continued to remain unimpeachable and non- negotiable.