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Total deregulation of energy industry should be an immediate goal – Taylor

Funke Taylor, CEO of The Energy Axis, speaks to MODESTUS ANAESORONYE on the Nigerian energy market, how her company is influencing change, and what government can do to position the sector. Excerpt:

As the CEO of ‘The Energy Axis’, what does your company do?

The Energy Axis is your online energy market, the e-directory for reliable oil, gas, renewable, and power businesses. We provide advisory services for Africa energy market, and also facilitate digital transformation of businesses.

The whole world today is talking about clean energy, how much has your company been involved in driving this project in Nigeria?

Despite the world’s current clamour for clean energy, an energy mix is what would benefit Nigeria for now, that is a mixture of hydrocarbon and clean energy sources. We have been working to ensure there’s cheaper but effective markets for clean energy businesses. It’s also our goal to facilitate newer entrants, smarter/newer technology businesses entrance into the clean energy market – and there is a huge market potential in Nigeria; for example, millions of homes still depend on biomass (firewood), all of these homes can be provided with cheaper and cleaner cooking alternatives. The Energy Axis is a responsible business, we also contribute to meeting the sustainable development goals;7,9, 12 &13.

What are the major challenges facing Energy market in Nigeria?

The energy industry is capital intensive, and Nigeria still does not have enough investment needed to meet our surging demand for energy products. There are many un-bankable power projects, for example, many grid production projects are not profitable enough due to leakages, frameworks etc. There are multiple regulations across the energy sector that is not attractive for investors. Supply, distribution and transportation are not as cost effective because of security challenges and lack of needed infrastructure. Investment into the industry has reduced, and recently because of Nigeria’s unpredictability in policies, to insecurity, to pricing, capacity, etc.

In your professional career, how much have you impacted the market?

I’ve been contributing to giving people opportunity, and providing energy market analysis for others. I have mentored many graduate Engineers over the years, focusing especially on bridging the skill gap between academics and what the market needs. I champion causes that leverage technology to improve ways business is done in the energy industry. I have been project co-ordinator in different phases of several projects; from onshore projects valued at millions in US dollars to offshore gas developments.

What policies would you advice government to deploy to achieve energy efficiency in Nigeria?

Total deregulation of the industry should be an immediate goal; it helps competition, Competition brings improvement and expanded market opportunities. They should come up with favourable fiscal regime that will encourage investment in gas, for example, there is still about 600 tcf of untapped NAG, a lot of investment is needed there, and it’s expensive. Investors need to be given incentives to spend what is needed to build infrastructures around those gas fields. Provide foundations for attractive framework for investments in all forms of energy. Urgently provide a clear and consistent regulation for renewable energy. The world is moving fast on green revolution, Nigeria needs to catch up) by having a unifying regulatory agency for the energy industry instead. We need to be able to link gas production, to electricity to renewable because there is interdependence.

You are a woman involved in various prominent leadership roles; what will you say is your most significant observation as a leader?

It’s important that you do all you can to ensure you’ve built a team that is committed and happy to execute; a team that would do whatever it takes to get that desired outcome.

You’ve been a player for almost 20 years. In comparison to when you started, how will you describe today’s oil and gas industry? Would you say there is a sharp improvement?

The oil and gas industry has matured; there has also been an increase in the use of technology to support operations, especially in remote monitoring. I wouldn’t say there’s been a sharp improvement: the industry is still traditional, reluctant to change, reluctant to adapt, reluctant to transform digitally etc. However, the current trends have forced some changes faster than the industry planned to. For instance, there has been big drive to reduce cost, to implement digital solutions into project delivery etc. We are all witnessing the big drive towards cleaner and sustainable source of energy, Nigeria needs to prepare itself for this paradigm shift also. Covid-19 has shown that the world can live with using less fossil fuel.

You serve as a source of inspiration to young women or women who aspire to be at the top in what could be tagged ‘a man’s world’. What are some contributing factor(s) to remaining in and flourishing at such a position?

First is to develop capacity; know your work well. Earn respect for being competent and reliable, and not just because of your gender. Second is your personality; be amiable, be a good team player, be disciplined, respect everyone and do not encourage people to disrespect you.

Profile:

Funke Taylor is an exceptional and Innovative Founder and CEO who is focused with a track record of achievements. She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with over 18 years of in-depth experience running different Energy projects, this has given her a brilliant insight into the needs of stakeholders in the Energy industry. She is skilled in providing strategic direction which has been honed by being the project coordinator of several projects; from onshore projects valued at tens of millions in US Dollars to offshore gas developments.

With a B.Sc in Chemical Engineering, Funke started her career as a Trainee Process Engineer in the National Engineering and Technical Company (NETCO) in 1999 before making her marks in other energy companies to becoming a Chief Operating Officer; in the role, she provided leadership to ensure the success of the business as well as overseeing the enterprise team.

In 2020, she founded ‘The Energy Axis’ to provide easier and more efficient ways for suppliers and producers in the Energy Industry to connect, do more business and save resources. With her 20 years of experience as an engineer, she has developed an extensive network of business relations that has helped her add value to user experience on the energy axis platform.

She has continued to champion causes that leverage technology to improve the way business is done in the energy industry. She also believes that deliberate enabling environments would increase the participation of women to the Tech. Industry and as her contribution; she has mentored many graduate Engineers over the years and continues to do so. She is a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and a Six Sigma Member of the American Society of Quality (ASQ).

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