Generator market in the UK is bigger than Nigeria even with stable power – Jammal


March 8, 2018 | 1:00 am
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RABI JAMMAL, group general manager, JMG Nigeria, one of the biggest generator makers in the country, tells BusinessDay’s ISAAC ANYAOGU that the perception that generator makers are somehow culpable for Nigeria’s epileptic power supply is unfounded, as it sells more units in the UK with stable power than Nigeria.

Tells us a little about your Nigerian operation

JMG started in Nigeria in 1998, we are in the business of power basically diesel generators. The owners of the business have been in the generator business since 1975. We have a lot of experience in the power sector and generator business.

Obviously, we are one of the leading companies in terms of generators and we employ about 1,000 Nigerians, we have operating facilities and factories around the world. We are distributing to all the major cities including Kano, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja.

Our main products are generators, diesel and gas and we do UPS and other electrical products. We do air compressors for industrial applications, we do elevators and we are into lightening as well. This is a summary of what we do in Nigeria.

Give us a sense of the diesel generator market size in Nigeria

It is always very difficult to get reliable data, but the diesel generator market size is roughly $240million dollars, that is the generator market size in Nigeria.

Nigeria emerged from recession last year, 2016 was particularly difficult, how has the company fared?

We survived, it was a tough year, many companies closed shop last year but we are still here. We have invested and committed to this country and we continued investments and diversification into related business and it has been ongoing exercise for the past three years. We have partnered with a lot multinational companies to continue to drive growth.

In generators for example, we deal with FG Williams, it is a brand owned by Caterpillar and it is one of the leading Perkins assemblers plants worldwide. We also partnered with Mitsubishi and others to continue to survive.

There’s a perception that generator sales is closely connected with Nigeria’s poor power supply, what’s your take?

We get that a lot but let’s talk numbers. The generator market in the UK is between $250m – $270m. The generator market in the UK is bigger than in Nigeria, even though they have better power…

Why is that?

The more countries become industrialized, the more you have more development, more buildings, more hospitals and industries. Sectors like healthcare, banking and other commercial sectors starts to improve.

As people require more information, more data centers are being set up, you will need diesel generators for backup purposes. Diesel generators are still the number one source of emergency backup, because generators can go from 0 to 100 percent load in a matter of seconds.

So, this is one reason why you see that in developed countries the size of the diesel generator market is large. It will be more focused on serving industries and big sized projects not mostly for residential use. The market topography will change but the demand will still be there.

We look forward to a more industrialized Nigeria because profits are better if you go for bigger projects, what will happen is that the market for generators for residential use will reduce but the upside is that you will have a bigger market for high capacity generators, more sophisticated installations for backups and that is growth for us.

Some generator makers are keenly going into solar, what is your plan?

We have already started, we have signed up with a partner on solar power and we will be focused a lot on two types of solutions. Rooftop solutions which are basically diesel-hybrid solutions which combine diesel and solar to reduce diesel consumption to customers and give reliable  power at a cheaper cost and we will also be focusing on ground based solar solutions like solar farms for IPP purpose.

We operate basically using the solar panel, generator and battery, with an inverter to charge the batteries and provide power to the building. You have the solar in conjunction with the generator power the building and while charging the battery with take over the critical load.

We have already started suppling the market in terms of products, we have started dealer networks and you can find our offerings in the traditional market segment. These are solar panels with the inverter and battery.

We are capitalizing on our experience with diesel generators to provide diesel-solar hybrid solutions for commercial purposes.

We are focusing a lot on building infrastructure, if you look at our products, we can do everything from power to plug. We start from the power which is the generator to the transformer, to the sockets and switches all the way to the lightbulb. We have a full range of product portfolio that covers all these and has partnered with international and global leaders to develop them.

What is current state of generator demand in the telecom space?

The demand for generators in the telecom space is still high because the sites are in remote areas where there is no accessibility to power so diesel generators are needed in all base stations. We are one of the major suppliers of generators to the telecoms industry.

To give you a sense of how many generators are needed, there are over 25,000 towers in Nigeria and they are powered by generators. So it is a big segment and is very competitive because the operating cost of the telecom sector is higher and everyone is looking for better solutions to reduce cost.

What are some of your operational challenges in Nigeria currently?

The dollar fiasco has caused huge problems with importation. The major challenge has been availability of dollar which has hindered the ability of every company that imports machinery from abroad and has slowed things down. We hope things will improve.

Your product is a major contributor to greenhouse effects, what are you doing to help mitigate climate change impacts?

By getting into solar and providing solar-hybrid solutions, we are already cutting consumption of diesel that is cutting down on emissions from generators. When you add batteries to it, you get further emissions reduction, the more you cut consumption of diesel generators the cleaner power you are going to get and it is better for the environment. This is something we are focusing a lot on this year and hopefully we will bring about better solutions for Nigeria.

But some producers of products like yours in other part of the world engage in actions like tree planting or other eco-friendly activities, do you engage in similar projects?

Of course we do, we carry out sensitization workshops, and our corporate social responsibility is directed at activities to protect the environment but to really succeed you need an enabling environment to get into this kinds of activities going.

There are a lot of challenges but we are not but we are still doing what we can. As part of our CSR activities,  we are providing power so some schools and help to save energy through LED bulbs and battery backup solutions. We focus a lot on the education and healthcare sectors but if the opportunity is available we will invest more.

You bring in batteries in the country, do you think of the end-of-life issues for the batteries brought into Nigeria?

We as a company are fully working with the environmental agencies in waste disposal of batteries, engine oil and in our factories. We are ISO certified for quality, environment and occupational health and safety. We have all the certifications ISO 90001, 14001, 18001. We follow international best practices for our activities.

Bear in mind that the biggest sector in terms of used batteries is the transport sector and the issue too is capacity. Does the country have adequate battery recycling plants because batteries produced in the transport sector are huge as they are disposed frequently. But we will support every regulation to help protect the environment as a company.


March 8, 2018 | 1:00 am
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