Dr. Rajeev Singh, the director-general and chief executive officer, Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), in this interview said Indian utility vendors and services are set to forge good alliances for enhanced business partnerships with their Nigerian counterparts. CHIKA IZUORA brings the excerpts.
You have participated in past Future Energy Nigeria events, how has it boosted both country’s relationship?
Nigeria as a country holds tremendous promise for Indian companies in terms of exports. Our exporters have forged good alliances and they are exporting to Nigeria in decent quantum through participation in this programme for the last two years. We have observed that there is a tremendous potential for Indian products in this market and we should continue to create more opportunity space for Indian companies to cater to Nigerian ecosystem.
What in your view can Nigerians learn from the Indian utility sector?
Energy is one of the major drivers of a growing economy like India and Nigeria. I believe that Nigerians can follow the same given India’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture, history of technology innovation and the vast domestic market, the country is ideally positioned to capitalise on the advantages that renewable energy has to offer. Although renewable energy technologies currently represent a fraction of the energy market in India, they have tremendous potential to undergo rapid growth and provide alternative solution to fossil fuels.
What particular projects are you involved in the power sector?
Energy is one of the major drivers of a growing economy like India and is an essential building block of economic development. The Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has been working proactively on key issues impacting the Energy sector through its various initiatives in the form of recommendation to the Ministry, publication of reports, creating various platforms (summits) between government and industry body addressing important and relevant concerns.
The India Energy Summit (IES) is one of the prime initiatives of ICC in the energy sector. The IES that started nine years ago has today succeeded in achieving the recognition of being one of India’s largest energy gatherings witnessing active participation of the most important dignitaries and organizations relevant to the sector from India and abroad.
Active involvement and participation from the states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and others, have also remained a major focus area and key strength. The Green Energy Summit has proved to be another major initiative of the ICC which exclusively focuses upon the Indian renewable energy sector.
It succeeded in bringing together leading renewable company and utility leaders, government decision makers and investors to discover how the economic, financial and political framework for renewable is evolving, and to assess the implications of growing renewable deployment for the future shape of the energy industry.
The ICC has already completed four editions of the summit which witnessed extensive participation from the Indian renewable energy along with widespread representation from Countries like Austria, Bangladesh, Canada, Belgium, Afghanistan, Ecuador, Iceland, Myanmar, Nepal, Iran, Kuwait, Germany, Singapore, Mauritius, South Africa and many others.
Continuing with its endeavor towards development and progress of the energy sector, the ICC has also formed a National Expert Committee on Energy with a view to contribute effectively towards growth of Indian energy. This committee is chaired by Mr. Anil Razdan, former secretary, Ministry of Power, government of India.
Let’s look at some background on the Indian Chamber?
Founded in 1925, the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the leading and only National Chamber of Commerce operating from Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mumbai and is one of the most pro-active and forward-looking Chambers in the country today. Its membership spans some of the most prominent and major industrial groups in India.
The ICC’s forté is its ability to anticipate the needs of the future, respond to challenges, and prepare the stakeholders in the economy to benefit from these changes and opportunities. Set up by a group of pioneering industrialists led by Mr. G. D. Birla, the Indian Chamber of Commerce was closely associated with the Indian Freedom Movement, as the first organised voice of indigenous Indian industry.
Several of the distinguished industry leaders in India, such as Mr. B. M. Birla, Sir Ardeshir Dalal, Sir Badridas Goenka, Mr S P Jain, Lala Karam Chand Thapar, Mr Russi Mody, Mr Ashok Jain, Mr. Sanjiv Goenka, have led the ICC as its president. The ICC is the only Chamber from India to win the first prize in World Chambers Competition in Quebec, Canada.
We organized over 200 summits and interactive sessions. Our efforts have primarily been at linking the business communities between India and South Asia, South East Asia, Africa and The Middle East. Alongside the regional economic integration initiatives, the ICC is also trading into the knowledge highway to further growth and development activities in the country as “Shared Prosperity: Equal Opportunity for All” becomes the new motto of growth for the world as a whole.
What kind of projects do you run for your members?
We run Policy Advocacy, Business Information Service and also the ICC Agri-Business Initiative, ICC Council of Arbitration, the ICC Young Leaders Forum, the ICC North East Initiative, Convention Facilities and the ICC Startup Support Programme.
This is your third year hosting the official Indian pavilion at Future Energy Nigeria. How successful is this event for your exhibitors?
The primary objective of the ICC is to connect over 1,800 C-level industry professionals across the full spectrum of the sector to address today’s challenges and implement tomorrow’s solutions. The exhibitors are happy to join this exhibition as it is giving them opportunities to promote their products/services in West Africa as well.
How interested is the Indian utility vendor and services market in the African sector and West Africa in particular?
Indian utility vendor and services will find a huge market and scope in Africa especially West Africa in the energy sector. With the latest World Bank loan, Nigeria is upgrading its Transmission and Distribution (T&D) infra and solar projects, so this has brought a good interest to the Indian utility vendors and market.
What excites you about this industry?
Energy is one of the major drivers of a growing economy like India and is an essential building block of economic development. There is a strong two-way relationship between economic development and energy consumption.
On one hand, growth of an economy, with its global competitiveness, hinges on the availability of cost-effective and environmentally benign energy sources, and on the other hand, the level of economic development has been observed to be reliant on the energy demand.
Economic growth in India has largely been associated with increased energy consumption. Over past few years, climate change has become one of the main concerns driving energy policy.
Since energy use is a major source of emissions, it is necessary to focus on the management of energy demand and supply as a means to abatement. Technological progress, energy efficiency programmes and structural changes contribute towards the variation in energy demand. Understanding the various components of energy demand is therefore important and necessary in order to deal with future emissions.
However, resource augmentation and growth in energy supply have failed to meet the ever-increasing demands exerted by the multiplying population, rapid urbanization and progressing economy.
Thus serious energy shortages continue to plague India with key challenges like fuel secure, erratic gas supply, land acquisition and environment clearances, Transmission and Distribution losses, poor transmission and distribution infrastructure, unaccountability in metering and billing, cross subsidies, etc.
For sustained economic growth, long-term availability of adequate energy at affordable cost is crucial. Meeting the energy challenge is therefore of fundamental importance to India’s economic growth imperatives and its efforts to raise its level of human development.
Energy sector reforms, fuel issues, sector rejuvenation and plumbing the perceived faults in the critical financials of the sector are the government’s primary focus areas. Energy availability, access and affordability are necessary for meeting the country’s high economic growth expectations.
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