“Nigeria’s downstream needs to utilize data better, use technology more efficiently”- Awobokun
Abayomi Awobokun is the chief executive officer of Enyo Retail and Supply, a downstream player in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, utilizing technology to simplify and optimize product retailing. The company presently supplies up to 2 percent of national demand for refined products in Nigeria.
In this exclusive interview with Dipo Oladehinde, he explains how Enyo is reshaping its strategies through the application of technology in service delivery.
Enyo has been operating in Nigeria for a while now and has done well in its expansion across the country so far.
As we get into the new year, could you please tell us about your expansion plans and any areas you are contemplating for expansion?
Enyo has been operating in Nigeria for just under four years, we are one of the retail brands that is actively re-energizing the distribution space and we are receiving excellent feedback from customers. Over the last few years, we have spread our operations to over 15 states and over 150,000 customers patronize us across the country daily. We are keen to deliver quality service, we have invested in building and upgrading our sites with our customers in mind, we have invested in quality equipment which retains their integrity over longer periods thereby allowing us to serve with higher levels of certainty as regards integrity compared to many other marketers and we also use technology competitively. I expect us to continue to expand our offering in 2021 and over the next few years, and this will span not just fuels but also our LPG offering, our Vehicon offering and most importantly our online confectionary business.
As a major expert in the Oil and Gas industry, could you give us your viewpoint on the Nigerian Gas industry so far and any key achievements Enyo has undertaken within this sector? What added value have/will your achievements bring to Nigeria?
We believe the gas space is one of the more exciting spaces in the downstream sector now. There are many applications of gas already being utilized however, we are interested in at least three applications. Government has been looking into better pricing for gas from producers for a while and, together with its partners, the NLNG has shown a commitment to the steady supply of gas also for many years. What is different now is that the Government is now keen to support investments in the last mile of LPG retail. This means investments in cylinders, bottling plants, logistics are now eligible for development finance teams from the CBN. This is commendable.
The gas space has huge growth potentials, and Enyo is keen to be a key player in this space into the future. We have done the following and intend to continue to do the same. In the first instance, we have invested in our own brand of quality cylinders and which are currently servicing hundreds of thousands of homes and families. To support these, we have commenced investing in gas filling plants, specifically Liquified Petroleum Gas and hope to invest in up to 20 plants over the next 24 to 36 months. We are fast becoming leaders in the deliver-to-home segment for cooking gas and we expect our first autogas stations to open up in 5-6 months to show that we are big believers in gas as a cleaner alternative to gasoil or gasoline.
We are testing and will soon launch our Superior Liquified Gas mobile app to give more people instant access to our gas products and services and to deepen our market share and penetration. Finally, we expect to be one of the leading brands in this area in a few years selling a broad range of gas-based products and services to our customers.
The Federal Government recently launched its plans to develop the Autogas market in Nigeria and set a target which aims at achieving a 40percent energy switch from petrol to LPG. In specific terms, what are the plans by Enyo Retail and Supply to key into this opportunity?
We plan to fully comply with any directive of the government. That is the kind of company that we are. This directive is even more interesting to us as it is an area, we believe in so expect us to be very compliant.
We have identified sites for our Auto-Gas points and are soon going to commence the required works to bring them into operational readiness. I believe in our approach which is to execute properly, it does take time, but the outcomes are usually better than what pertains in the industry in view.
Enyo is a one-stop-shop for fuel needs, including lubricants, gas, confectionaries and our use of technology means we deliver with more convenience to our customers.
Having been in the industry this long, what would you say are the key challenges faced in Nigeria’s gas market today and how is Enyo navigating this?
In general, the downstream needs to utilize data better and to use technology much more efficiently. In addition, it needs to improve its narrative so as to attract the right sort of capital with which it can grow, employ more people and pay more taxes to the government. Data and Tech can be used to reach more people and switch them to LPG. Investments can be better monitored leveraging tracking systems and whilst collecting consumption data, safety can also be better monitored and managed.
There are challenges however they are pale in comparison to the opportunities we see in the sector, the biggest being that we have a limited time to shape the sector especially the gas sub-sector into a world-class subsector where supply is steady, demand keeps growing, players are profitable, stable and government keeps a watchful eye on the affairs of the subsector.
How has Enyo contributed to local content over time and what importance does this have to the country Nationwide?
Nigeria’s local content journey especially in the Oil and Gas space is commendable, the literature on the achievements earned should be distributed across the world and we must not relent as an industry. Enyo is an integral part of that story, we are indigenous, focused on the country, 99.9percent of our employees are Nigerian workers, we support communities we operate out of within the framework provided for us by our board and most importantly we detribalised, our working environment is balanced for better.
We are one of the many bright stories in the oil & gas downstream space benefiting from the philosophies of the Nigerian Local Content Act.
Since COVID-19 the pace at which Digital has been accelerating has increased exponentially, how has Enyo managed to shape its strategies in order to better adapt to the new normal?
Since Enyo was established, we have relied on technology perhaps like no other business in our space. All stations are connected to the internet, we have remote fuel sensing, biometric management of our employees, remote visibility of operations at all points of sale, prioritized non-cash payments, to mention but a few tech-based initiatives.
What we then did better as a result of the pandemic is to focus more on customer-facing applications of the technology we have at the stations and one of the products of this effort is our VELOX card, www.enyoretail.com/velox. We have continued to improve the value offering of our VELOX card, it’s designed for all car users but specifically for fleet owners and we will soon release to the market a touchless, cardless payment product called GEENIE which is also the first of its kind in our industry in Nigeria.
Working from home for us comes easily, it’s a young team, very physically and cerebrally mobile, hardworking, passionate and results-oriented.
The one thing that the new normal (working under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic) has brought to the fore for us is the need to take all steps possible to keep our team members, their families and our customers as safe as possible.
What are Enyo’s key priorities for the year to come?
Our priorities are to operate our business within the right compliance and safety framework, we must suffer no fatalities or contribute to the injury or illness of any team members and customers.
In addition, we must continue to innovate and produce digital products that are complementary to our core business till these products become our core business.
Finally, we must deliver good returns to our stakeholders as we build a brand that customers love more than its competitors. These are the things we seek to achieve over the next phase of our growth.