Powercell to invest $2m in power backups

Sebastine Obasi

04 March 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The Managing Director, Powercell Limited, Mr. Tayo Balogun, in this interview speaks about the use of Uninterrupted Power Supply, UPS and Inverter systems to promote sustainable energy supply.

Tell us more about Powercell and its business?
Powercell was incorporated to take care of renewable energy. We are the sole partners to ABB of Switzerland. We are their only representative both in Nigeria and West Africa. Renewable energy is energy that comes from natural sources like the sun, wind, wastes. The one we are actually into deals with the sun and the wind. You know every day the sun must come out and the wind must blow. These things are used as sources of energy worldwide. That is why we embraced it.

Why did you decide to go for this type of business?
We looked at the energy sources in Nigeria about three years ago vis-à-vis the prevailing power challenges and thought of how we could help in alleviating the power problem. We started by bringing in inverter from the United States of America, and then battery, as a back-up. Then, we went further to explore the renewable energy aspect. The world is focusing more on the wind and the sun as sources of energy. We felt therefore that Nigeria should not be left behind. We have been in the back-up business, that is inverter and UPS, for three years now, but we have been in the renewable energy business for five years.

Can you explain the partnership with ABB/Newave?
Newave Energy is one of the leading manufacturers of UPS in Europe. It is based in Switzerland. In June 2012, the company was bought over by ABB. All over the world, mergers and acquisitions are common these days. The marriage between ABB and Newave came into being on June 2, 2012. We signed our partnership as sole representative of the ABB UPS on September 24, 2012. Newave is a member of the ABB Group. We opted to market ABB brand of UPS in Nigeria because the company is well known in Nigeria. It has been around for a long time.

Do you have the capacity for the business?
One of the things ABB is known for is training and retraining. We were involved in their various trainings after which we were certified by the company. We have also sent our engineers and some other staff to Switzerland for their training. The reason for all these is that we are looking at a wide customer base, such that our staff would be able to serve them satisfactorily.

How much are you then investing in the business?
We are investing about $2million in the next 13 months. That is not going to be all we will invest. We are going to surpass it, going by the feelers we are getting from our prospective customers. We brought in some UPS last year and did some demonstrations for our customers. Since then, we have been getting a lot of enquiries. By the first week in March, the first batch of our consignment would have hit the market. We have been doing aggressive marketing and we are expectant that the result will be beneficial.

Many companies have been making enquiries about our products. They include; oil companies, banks, steel companies, pharmaceutical companies, even individuals who are tired of using brands that are not durable. Because ABB is a well known brand, we give two years warranty to our customers. We are the only company marketing UPS that gives that duration of warranty. That shows we know what we are selling. We can beat our chest and say that what we are selling is the best.

How affordable are your products?
Our products are affordable. If you compare them with the others in their class, you find out that they are the cheapest. When you are entering the market newly, you consider the price of your products. We want to get to as many customers as possible, that is why we made our prices affordable. From reports worldwide, the rate of failure of Newave products is less than one percent.

What are your plans for the future?
I want to see Powercell, in partnership with ABB, as a leader in the back-up system in Nigeria. I want to see Powercell as a company people can rely on. We have a reputation that we cannot allow to be dragged on the mud. So in the next five years, I want to see Powercell/ABB products as household names in Nigeria.

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