10 March 2013, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Siemens Limited Nigeria is a hydra-headed company with interests spanning the Oil, Gas, Infrastructure and Healthcare. The company’s operations in Nigeria is highly essential to the federal government’s roadmap on power and has shown commitment when it signed an MoU for 10 Gigawatts of electric power with the government, even as it is also working on the completion of 3 gas turbines to provide an additional 400 Mw of power to the Geregu power plant in Nigeria. In this interview with Yemie ADEOYE, the newly appointed Managing Director of the company; Mr. Michael Lakota speaks on a number of issues as it affects the operations of the company in Nigeria even as he restates the company’s commitment to Nigeria.
Sir I’m aware you just resumed in Nigeria very recently, you are welcome to Nigeria.
How would you describe the country?
It’s a very interesting and dynamic place, with what I have seen so far, I like it very much
Do you foresee any challenges working in Nigeria?
Yes definitely it’s a challenging environment, there are lots of potentials and there is a lot of market on the other hand we have to be prepared for that.
In comparison with Nigeria how the operating environment in Germany and what were your achievements while there?
The former department where I worked was the corporate sustainability department and I was in charge of the environment portfolio which harbours 40 percent of the Siemens total revenue, which in total is heading up to 33 billion Euros! This is a major achievement of Siemens Ag and Siemens worldwide, and we experienced the gross rate with this environment portfolio of 10 percent annually and this is a major success story for Siemens, and I hope this would be for Nigeria as well.
What are your cardinal plans for Siemens Nigeria and what new plans are you bringing on board?
The most important thing not only I personally bring in but also Siemens as a company brings in to Nigeria is the full commitment to operate in Nigeria! And to be here in Nigeria for Nigeria, so I would say this is the strategy for Siemens ltd Nigeria, to be here and to wrap up our business, and increase our volumes and to train our employees and to contribute the maximum value for this country.
I would like to know if there is one thing in particular that you desire to achieve in Nigeria?
This is a very good question indeed, and I have to admit that Nigeria as a country itself has not the best reputation in the international media, this has nothing to do with Germany or Europe or whatever, it is just the reputation of the country itself because of some troubles, internal clashes and maybe corruption scandal and all these things, on the other side what I have experienced personally the weeks I stayed here in Nigeria, it’s a very interesting and very attractive place, very dynamic market and I would like to improve the reputation at least within Siemens, that Nigeria is a very good place to operate and definitely a must be as a multinational company to be present , so this is one strategic direction I think we have to work on.
When you resumed operations here, are you aware of the fact that not many Nigerians from all works of life appreciate or understand the real functions of Siemens as a company here?
I know that for individuals it is hard to understand what we are doing because an individual person is probably not coming across our operations daily, because we are more into the business to business operation instead of the business to consumer operations, were we where before.
You have told us how you are going to impact in Nigeria ,but you have not mentioned how you are going to raise the profile of Siemens in Nigeria, what are you planning to achieve in the company?
I think one thing which is very important is staff training, that we train our people so that they can deliver the quality of work you are expecting and we want to have high standards, and I see the right people in our company and we even want to improve and give a chance to the people to develop themselves into a multinational company and definitely we want to increase our business volume, these are very important points because we want to contribute to the 10 Gigawatts power capacity, we signed the MOU with the president last year so this means a whole lot of work ahead of us and we are fully eager to deliver.
Even though you are new to Nigeria, you must have heard about the terrible power situation how do you intend to contribute in finding solution to this?
Yes this is our main focus and activity here in Nigeria (The Power Sector)we are operating in power generation, power transmission and power distribution, so we are going to provide world class technology to our customers to help them generate more electricity for Nigeria and to help our customers to distribute this electricity to households and to industries to provide a stable power supply.
I’m quite sure in Germany there are no power outages and Siemens operates in the power sector Germany, so if you would advise the Nigerian government, what would you advise them to do in order to bring about a change, especially the regulators of the power sector i.e. what they ought to do that they are not doing?
Indeed the power supply in Nigeria has to be improved, I can give you one example which I think is very illustrative, we are operating in Nigeria more or less 4 Gigawatts of power production and comparing this per capital of the power of consumption annually, it means every Nigerian can run one single light bulb for a year, no AC, no Refrigerator, we can also provide our professional advice to customers and government. This I think is one major achievement we are seeing now in Nigeria, and this brings a lot of investment opportunities into the country as well, private companies would invest because Nigeria has great potentials.
In a bid to achieve these objectives and aims in Nigeria, do you foresee any challenges or limitations ahead?
Yes! One challenge and this comes additionally to the question before, I think the challenge is to operate in excess and knowledge of the capacity of operating this country on a professional level. With my experience we gather that there are some power plants, turbines not running because of lurking and service interrupt. So for this machine it is important that we have a proper service on the machine to maintain the quality and the capacity of the machine I think this is a mental road block that we try to engage with our customers(government) to improve and help a proper service culture. In Siemens we are concerned about the future; we don’t sacrifice our future for now. Siemens is very committed to the mega trends this is our long term strategy of Siemens as a whole, our mega trends(Climate change ,Urbanization ,Ageing of population and Globalization)And we with our portfolio, we are a trusted and a world class partner to provide answers for this challenging question
You are currently involved with some projects in Nigeria, some power projects, do you want to use this medium to talk about and also tell us more about your plans for 2013?
The Geregu power plant is one of the most successful projects that we are currently running ,we are installing three different turbines which equals more than 400mega watts, what I heard from our customers is that we are the only company that delivers on time and not delayed and this is something very unique because from what I heard is that projects are always delayed, and another thing which am very proud of because this contributes to our Siemens value is that we have been running this place for more than two years with no major injuries or catastrophes and this is a good point that we committed to our values, we are not here for short time profit, we are here to operate as a 100 percent professional multinational company with the highest service we can provide, we commissioned and handed over a power plant last year to a cement factory and it was for 112.5 megawatts and we also signed a contract to submit four compressors to the oil and gas industry, this is not really related to power now, but it is also related to energy, we also signed a contract to submit three gas turbines to a cement industry, so these are some of the things we have done in the energy sector in the last one year and the Geregu 2 power station is being commissioned as we speak today.
How much have you invested in the country?
Even though we are not allowed to communicate or expose how much we have invested, in other areas though we invest a lot in regards to commitment, training, personnel. So this is an investment we are delivering to the country.
Can you clarify us more on the Geregu power plant, because I taught you have completed that project?
Yes there is Geregu 1 which belongs to the PHCN, we finished that some two years ago and Geregu 2, which belongs to the Niger Delta Power Holding company, in addition to what we have invested in Nigeria, we have the Siemens Power Academy where we run energy programmes for people that are interested in the power sector and a whole lot of investments in our staff over the years.
Does your company have any shares in any other company in Nigeria or does any company have shares in yours?
We don’t have any stake in any company in Nigeria and vice versa ,we are 100percent Siemens
What are your core plans for 2013, and how do you intend to expand?
We hope to increase our market share when we increase our market share, we hope it becomes a highly profitable organization to be reckoned with, not just any type of organization but within and outside of Nigeria, we hope to get very good results not just in the area of profitability, but in the area of our processes and operation, we want to be here for a long run not just a little time.