• Friday, March 01, 2024
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Meet Hakeem Disu, entrepreneur fostering clean energy access

Meet Hakeem Disu, entrepreneur fostering clean energy access

In a committed effort to confront Nigeria’s enduring energy challenges, Hakeem Disu, the visionary co-founder of Lihon Energy, a pioneering renewable energy infrastructure company, is steadfastly working towards providing widespread access to clean energy for Nigerians.

Specialising in the distribution and development of solar hybrid power for commercial and industrial clients, Lihon Energy not only offers installation services but also pioneers a buy-now-pay-later solution, catering to businesses, real estate, and diverse power needs in both rural and urban settings.

“Our innovative approach enables businesses to install solar energy systems and adopt a pay-later model, overcoming financial barriers that hinder the adoption of renewable energy solutions,” the co-founder says.

Lihon Energy extends its impact by distributing essential solar installation components such as batteries, inverters, and solar panels, and tailoring systems to meet the specific requirements of commercial and industrial clients.

Distinguishing itself in the renewable energy landscape, Lihon Energy places a central emphasis on addressing the energy needs of rural areas.

Hakeem says, “While many perceive rural regions as impoverished, closer examination reveals that these areas lack technological advancements rather than wealth.”

He draws a parallel to the early 2000s when Africa was considered unable to afford mobile phones, highlighting the subsequent proliferation of mobile devices.

Read also: A look at Nigeria’s transition to a clean energy economy

Similarly, Lihon Energy’s focus is on introducing transformative technology to uplift the lives of those in overlooked rural communities.

Reflecting on the company’s origins, Hakeem explains, “The inception of Lihon Energy was influenced by my involvement in the blockchain sector.

A client’s request for the installation of Bitcoin mining machines highlighted a crucial requirement: a stable power supply for continuous operation and optimal profits. Given Nigeria’s power deficit, this posed a significant challenge.”

“In 2019, recognizing the need for a sustainable solution, we opted for renewable energy. To my astonishment, the implementation of renewable energy successfully powered the entire mining facility, and to this day, it remains operational.

According to the co-founder, this experience sparked his interest in renewable energy, especially considering the substantial portion of the population—over 45 percent—that lacks access to electricity in Nigeria.

“Also, the new electricity act signed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu influenced us to fully commit. I am of the belief that the decentralization of power holds the key to the future of Nigeria’s power sector, much like the telecom decentralization that gave rise to Airtel, Glo, and other entities from the former NITEL.”

Addressing challenges faced by the company, Hakeem discusses, “One significant challenge we are currently grappling with pertains to fluctuations in exchange rates. Consider a scenario where a foreign investor funds a solar microgrid project with $100,000 when the exchange rate is N450/$1.

However, a few years later, the exchange rate escalates to N1250/$1, requiring repayment in dollars when investors repatriate their funds.

“Addressing this discrepancy is a prominent hurdle for our company, as investors anticipate a return of $100,000 despite unfavourable exchange rates. Such fluctuations pose a considerable risk, diminishing investor confidence and discouraging further investments in the country.”

To navigate this challenge effectively, Hakeem suggests, “We must explore collaborative solutions. A viable approach involves fostering cooperation between the government and financial institutions to establish a mutually agreeable framework.

“Creating a dedicated pipeline for financiers of renewable energy companies would allow for repayments in Naira by the companies to the bank, which can then facilitate payment to investors in dollars.

“This structured arrangement aims to mitigate the adverse effects of exchange rate volatility and foster a more stable environment for solar business installations.”

With a current infrastructure capacity of 0.5 megawatts, Lihon Energy prioritizes reliability, stability, and safety in its power supply systems.

Hakeem details, “We source high-quality solar panels, batteries, and inverters from reputable manufacturers, ensuring the reliability and efficiency of the installed infrastructure.

Read also: Renewable firms partner to finance SMEs for sustainable clean energy solutions

“Our team comprises skilled engineers and technicians who employ industry best practices during the design, installation, and maintenance phases. In addition, scheduled maintenance checks and inspections are conducted to identify and address any potential issues promptly.”

Advanced monitoring systems are implemented to track infrastructure performance in real-time, allowing early detection of anomalies and immediate corrective actions, contributing to system stability. Lihon Energy adheres to stringent safety protocols in compliance with industry standards.

Discussing the technologies employed, the co-founder explains, “We utilise solar energy through photovoltaic systems, converting sunlight into electricity. Additionally, the integration of high-capacity batteries enables us to store excess energy generated during peak sunlight hours, ensuring a reliable power supply during periods of low sunlight.”

The company also uses smart grid solutions to enable efficient management, monitoring, and control of the power distribution network. Hakeem adds, “Lihon Energy employs sophisticated energy management systems to optimize the performance of installed infrastructure.

“We also utilize remote monitoring technologies, allowing Lihon Energy to keep a real-time check on system performance. This proactive approach enables swift identification and resolution of issues, minimizing downtime and associated costs.

Lihon Energy incorporates and partners with innovative financing models and digital platforms to make clean energy solutions financially accessible.”

On the company’s environmental impact, particularly in terms of carbon emission savings and petrol savings, Hakeem states, “Since we launched, we have been able to save 2298 metric tons of carbon emission and 998,000 million litres of petrol.”

Discussing how Lihon Energy has adapted to market trends and innovations in the renewable energy sector and plans for growth and expansion, Hakeem says, “Adapting to market trends in the renewable energy sector involves partnering, collaborating, and leveraging with other stakeholders in the industry.

“We plan to build a nuclear power plant for Nigeria.”