Engr. Lamu Audu is managing director/CEO, Mainstream Energy Solution Ltd (MESL), the largest hydropower generation company in Nigeria that generates an average of 25 percent of the country’s electric power. It is the successor company that acquired the assets of Kainji and Jebba Hydro Electric PLC and Audu has been in charge of the company’s affairs since October 2013.
MESL was incorporated and licensed as a power generating company in 2011. It acquired the two hydro power plants that have a combined installed capacity of 1338.4 MW through a concession agreement with the federal government of Nigeria in November 2013.
Audu has engineered a transformation of the power generating plants from operating capacity of 482 MW for Jebba and zero generation of Kainji at the point of takeover in November 2013 to a combined power generation of 922 MW.
It has, no doubt, been quite a challenging task for the MESL’s boss, particularly having to jerk up power generation at Kainji from zero. He recalls that none of the plant’s eight generating units with a total installed capacity of 760 MW was operational in November 2013. At Jebba plant, which has total installed capacity of 578.4 MW, five of the six generating units were in operation.
Audu has worked tenaciously to change the story of these plants, lifting their total available capacity to 922 MW supplied to the national grid. Kainji is his major success story – where he has got four units operating at an available capacity of 440 MW, up on Jebba’s 482 MW.
The upgrade represents a remarkable improvement in MESL’s power generation from 2,715 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2013 to 5,277 GWh in 2018, accounting for an average of 25 percent of Nigeria’s power generation. He sees his company’s effort optimising power generation in Nigeria as a milestone attained in delivering on the mandate of the federal government with privatization of the Nigerian electricity supply industry. “What we have achieved so far is vivid proof that privatisation works as it has created an avenue for private sector investments into the industry for the benefit of the economy”, he said.
Audu attended Ramat College of Technology Maiduguri and Kaduna Polytechnic where he obtained an OND and HND in mechanical engineering respectively. He proceeded to the University of Maiduguri where he obtained his B.ENG mechanical engineering. He attended many professional courses and trainings as well as management development programmes in Nigeria and overseas and holds a number of professional qualifications.
He started his career with Borno State Ministry of Works and Housing in 1986 where he worked for about 10 years as principal mechanical engineer. He moved to National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) as manager (mechanical) in 1996.
He was promoted to senior manager (mechanical) at Kainji Hydro Power Station in 2002. He assumed the position of principal manager (Turbine) in 2008 and was transferred to Jebba Hydro Electric Plc as assistant general manager (maintenance) in 2009. He was appointed MD/CEO of Jebba Hydro Electric Plc in 2011, a position he held until the completion of the privatization exercise.
Audu has executed several programmes focused on technical and human resource capacity development to galvanise the operation and management of the power plants. His technical capacity building initiative has pursued a robust capacity recovery and expansion programme focused on restoring the capacity at Kainji to guarantee year-round power generation of an average of 750 MW.
The company has invested heavily in technology and state-of-the-art equipment to optimise operation and maintenance at both plants. These include its inflow forecasting system and operational tool software (IFS/OPT), a satellite-based technology that aids flood management and projections of water flow into the Kainji reservoir. The technology guides the company’s operations to maximise power generation at the plants.
One of the major hurdles that Audu has crossed is a change of workers’ orientation from seeing power generation as a government-funded social service to a profit-driven private enterprise. “I must confess that this took some time, but we are proud of our achievements thus far in turning the plants around significantly and positioning for greater successes in the future”, he said.
Despite challenges and some key issues across the industry’s value chain involving huge revenue losses and huge receivables, MESL’s CEO has been able to position the company as a performance leader within the industry by proffering innovative and practical solutions to boost its power generation capacity for the benefit of the country.
He is committed to achieving stability in electricity supply to the national grid by generating power in a safe and reliable manner in contribution to national development. To this end, he is pursuing vigorously the recovery and expansion of capacity at both Kainji and Jebba plants.
MESL has commenced the rehabilitation of Unit 1G7 at Kainji targeted to add 80 MW to the national grid in 2020. Plans are also on top gear for the rehabilitation of Unit 2G6 at Jebba, which is expected to add 96.4 MW to the power grid. New generating units are also in process to bring onboard a combined 200 MW at Kainji, expanding the installed capacity to 960 MW.
MESL has also embarked upon the establishment of Amfani Industrial Park and Free Trade Zone in partnership with Niger State government. Located east of the Kainji Lake and adjacent to Kainji power plant, the development is designed as an avenue for local and international companies to set up and therefore draw huge investments into the country.