The General Manager, BeeBee Jump International Limited, Peter Zhang, in this exclusive interview with UTHMAN SALAMI, explains the strategies his company is adopting in powering Nigerian communities with renewable energy solution at the cheapest rate and affordable price. He also speaks on what is expected from the company building a state-of-the-earth solar power equipment production factory in Nigeria by 2022.
What is the prospect of solar energy and your product in particular?
Our major strength is that we own this solar technology. The major accessories for our products, we have a team member of Engineers of 118 to develop these particular accessories for our products. For example, the software and the hardware are developed by our company. Let’s talk about the software. We have a PayGo system which is a solution for the people who are low-income and middle-Income earners. People who do not have the capacity to pay at once can key in.
So PayGo system is the solution for installment payment for our customers. The last one is our product in-material that is referred to as Lead-ion. This is the latest and top technology in the world. It has the longest life span in the market presently. When we develop the product, we always follow the use of quality and high standard materials for the battery in the world for our products. These are the three points of strength and uniqueness of our equipment.
Not long ago in some parts of the North, FG and State government started solar energy as an alternate power source. What can you say are the major challenges facing alternate power sources in Nigeria?
The Nigeria market is large and can accommodate many solar companies of their projects. We believe in our product qualities and we have one of the best-graded lithium batteries in our solutions. The materials we use for our products are quite different from most competing products in Nigeria. We don’t compromise our materials. This is so because we have a long-term plan and strategies for Nigerian market. We are here to stay with our quality products.
This is one of the reasons we do installment payments. If we were not ready for Nigerians, why would we give customers credit for three years? This shows our level of seriousness in the country. And then the third is, we have strong after-sales services. We train people who also engage in this business. There is no way you want to spread across the whole of Nigeria without training anybody, especially in some villages.
Once they have the knowledge, they can partner and make installations as well as maintain our products. This is because our products are spread across Nigeria. Let me mention it again, we have come to stay in Nigeria.
What is the durability and the lifespan of your products?
Our warranty is three years. The life spans depend on how the customers use the product which is estimated to last between six to 10 years.
How long have you been operating in Nigeria?
We have been in Nigeria for four years. Meanwhile, our company has been trading with different countries for over 20 years. Though we are new in Nigeria, but we are not a new company in the solar industry. We are a veteran in the industry.
Having been trading with other countries, how will you describe the Nigerian business environment compared to other countries?
Let’s talk about renewable energy in Nigeria. This is not a new business in the country. It’s been more than 20 years since its existence in the country. Now, we are seeing more governments and World Bank giving Nigerian people more support to go renewable because electricity is really a problem in Nigeria.
However, the country did not have such support they are having now compared to what they had in the past. Hence, the development of renewable energy in the country was slowed unlike now that the supports are coming from all directions. In this business, as you know, Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, and the potential of renewable energy is very high.
How can Nigeria as a country take advantage and invest more on renewable as an alternate power generation?
We are trained for this business. The government unlike before felt the cost of renewable is a bit high. But now, this technology is more matured and always changing, coming down bit by bit. This is one of the elements of pricing in the industry. It is not as high as before. Nigerians are now seeing the need for solar for every home and office.
The other point is in the product itself. Like the other time I told you our strength is the product itself.
However, our company’s warranty has solved these problems because, by that, we have already given them our assurances.
And another thing is if the government wants to invest more attention in renewable, it should do it for the entire nation not to single out a company. How are we planning for the government to trust us more ? We will tell them what we are doing during a period of time.
That is, building trust between companies who do this renewable energy and the government. The trust bridge is very key in this sector.
You have to use it to improve on how many staff you’ve recruited, how much work you are doing during a specific time? And what sort of project you do for different governments? What is your strength during a production line? What is the company structure and maintenance process during the time? Once all these are comprehensively done, trust will set in. Trust is a complete system that needs to be bridged.
How has the foreign exchange rate affected your business in Nigeria?
The foreign exchange rate is not only a problem for us in the renewable sector. It is a general phenomenon affecting every business in Nigeria. Hence, it is one of the challenges we face as a company. We hope government can give us more support across all sectors such as renewable energy, factory business. If governments can reconsider the Dollar-Naira exchange issue, it will help our industry a lot.
And I also think the government has a policy on ground for any company that desires to run a factory in the country. I think they do give more support ranging from the land, tax, etc once that is done. And I am sure this will be another solution to covering up the gap created by Naira-Dollar exchange.
How soon should Nigerians expect the completion of your plant?
It should be nearing completion next year. We are already making plans. We will get the factory ready soonest. We have staff available for that. So before Q1 and Q4, you will see a concrete effort from us.
What other challenges do you face in the industry and how do you think government can come in to help salvage the situation?
As you know, the exchange rate challenge is not a singular problem affecting the renewable energy industry. We have faced the challenge of getting our money back. We made money here in Nigeria. But we will need money to buy materials from our factory.
We need to pay them before we can get any material. It is very difficult. The money is only here. We cannot pay the factory to buy materials as it takes time.
It makes our production line from outside very difficult. The speed is not at what it should. Government can give loan to those in the sector to support in building a solar factory in Nigeria.
If they cannot give loan, they can as well provide information about those who need the renewable energy, provide us land, with good economic policies, and create enabling environment whereby stakeholders in the industry will meet frequently as this will give us more chances to talk to the government and the people who need the product and services.
Government can be a bridge between those of us doing the business and can provide the services, and those who need the product to thrive. If they think money is too much they can, at least, give us more information so that we can talk to them, provide them with services, and to give them the warranty. Let them give us the opportunity and then we will follow up on the others.
How many states in the country has your company covered and what is your message to your customers all over?
We are currently operating in 33 states but we have 16 offices across the federation. Actually, we can say we are everywhere because of our presence online which made it possible for us to sell online.
We have offices in Sokoto and in Kastina we have staff members in other states too including very small communities. We also have business partners across Nigeria.
And about the message, I want to challenge Nigerians to have trust and confidence in us as a renewable energy provider, but we are have come to change people’s perception about renewable energy. We have only come to provide them with unequaled alternate sources of power. And they should be rest assured that we will give them the best they deserve.