By CHIKA IZUORA |
Indigenous Meter Assembly company, Gospell Digital Technology, is expanding its production capacity as government targets 70 per cent local content in the ongoing National Mass Metering Programme.
Speaking in an interview with journalists, managing director of the firm Mr. Godfrey Ohuabunwa said the company is a foremost manufacturing company in Nigeria and West Africa and indeed the first to set up a fur line automatic Surface Mount Technology SMT system that produces Printed Computer Circuit Boards (PCB).
According to Ohuabunwa, the company has grown production from 1.5 million to almost 5 million per annum, but added that on a normal day if the company run two shifts daily, annual production will go up to 10 million set top boxes and almost 5 million meters uninterrupted.
“We also have a technology that we are able to design our own smart meters. Beyond producing smart meters and set top boxes, we also produce cell phones, smart televisions sets, tablets and household appliances. We have the capacity, not just in terms of volume but the technology.” he said.
He disclosed that the firm has embarked on capacity expansion with a second factory being developed in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to complement the factory at the Free Trade zone in Calabar.
The Port Harcourt factory is almost at completion stage would be opened during the second quarter of the year.
He blamed COVID-19 pandemic the delay in meeting the completion date for the project .
He said the Port Harcourt plant is by far bigger than the one in Calabar which will increase the company’s overall capacity to over 15 million set top boxes and about 10 million meters per annum.
“That factory in Port Harcourt sits on almost 50 plots of land. The factory is built with a capacity of ten SMT lines with two Dip lines which could also be expanded to accommodate more.
“When operational, the factory would be employing over 1000 people, which is quite a huge number of people, including engineers, technicians, sales, research and development and quality control officers.” he said.
The firm has three major technical partners which include Clou of China, Areon of South Korea and SKYworth a leading manufacturer of set top boxes.
With these three companies as technical partners the firm will be able to produce not just electricity meters but quality meters that is suited for our environment and will serve not only Nigeria but the West African market.
“We are also going beyond West Africa under the African Free Trade zone. As you know, today, we control 60 per cent of the set top box market. Our aim is to continue to push the numbers and continuously lead this market where we have gained acceptability in terms of delivery and quality. Not just lead in terms of numbers but to make it cheaper and available on demand, ” he said.
While describing the mass metering project as a wonderful initiative by President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure that about Six Million and Twenty-five (6.25m) homes have smart meters installed, he identified some seeming inadequacies contained in its implementation.
According to him, while the federal government designed programme that the meters should not be sold but sponsored and financed the programme entails that there will be a phase zero which will be to mop up all the available manufactured meters in Nigeria, there are foreign exchange challenges to meet up with additional production under the second and third phases of the project.