Skills development is of utmost importance in developing countries where workforces are eager for opportunities to acquire new talents. While investments are undoubtedly important because they have a positive impact on building up infrastructure, some analysts argue that the old proverb about giving a man a fish versus teaching him to fish applies to Africa where multinational companies need to focus on upskilling their employees.
GE has a long and established history of conducting some of the most respected employee development programmes in the world and evidence of this commitment to skills development was highlighted recently when GE Nigeria successfully carried out a complicated flange to flange replacement of a gas turbine.
The Transcorp Power Plant in Ughelli, Delta State was bought by the Transnational Corporation Group in 2013 and at the time, had a capacity of 160MW due to an old gas turbine being out of service and suffering catastrophic damage. GE replaced the old PG 9151 unit with a more efficient PG 9171 unit, which is equipped with a remote monitoring and control system.
This is the first time a flange to flange replacement was carried out in SSA on a power generating unit and the procedure made use of a more than 100 local contractors and workers. The plant, which is now operating with a capacity of 620MW can supply power to up to 2.4-million Nigerian homes.
The commissioning of the new unit was attended by Transcorp Group Chairman Tony Elumelu, who said: “GE has been a great partner for Transcorp in getting this unit online. The reactivity and the commitment of the local teams has been remarkable. This illustrates our determination to invest in critical infrastructure, despite the current macro conditions. We appreciate GE’s assistance in Transcorp Power’s mission to light up Nigeria.”
At the event, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said: “Feats as we are witnessing today put to bed some of the uninformed comments that stakeholders have not done anything.” He added that his ministry was focused on enhancing power distribution in the country.
Ahmad Zakari, Executive Service Director for GE Power Services Nigeria, said: “The new unit comes with a higher efficiency output of 33% compared to older units that perform at 28%. This readily translates into important savings for the customer as less gas is needed to produce the same output.”
The new unit also enables operators to predict and analyze operations from the plant control room, resulting in a reduction in manual interventions, which in turn reduces the associated safety risks.
“GE has been consistent in its commitment to continue to invest and grow local capabilities in the country and the continent. Every day, our local teams break new frontiers as they support customers with efficient technical support that would otherwise have come from outside sources,” said Zakari.