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‘Gov’t Should Wade into the Allegation of Sabotage by IOCs’ — Sabo Shehu Malami

Sabo Shehu Malami

In this exclusive interview with Sabo Shehu Malami, a seasoned business leader and Group Managing Director of Elsahal Group Limited, with a diverse portfolio spanning energy, property, power, gas, and agriculture, Sabo brings a unique perspective to the discourse. As a director at Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) and Managing Director of an engineering servicing company operating in the upstream sector, he has a deep understanding of the energy landscape in Nigeria. In this dialogue with Valuechain’s William Emmanuel Ukpoju, Sabo shares his insights on the synergy between real estate and energy, his company’s plans for developing solar estates and professionals’ housing, and his thoughts on the energy transition in Africa. EXCERPTS:

Could you please introduce yourself and give us a little bit of background about what you do?

My name is Sabo Malami, I’m the Group Managing Director of Elsahal Group Limited. We maintain various business portfolios ranging from energy, property, power, gas and also agriculture. I’m one of the directors at Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), and also Managing Director of an engineering servicing company that operates upstream. In addition, I’m one of the directors of some upstream companies to mention a few.

You are a man of many caps; what motivated you to attain this feat?

As you know, when you go into business in Nigeria, you learn to know that you cannot stick to or put your eggs in one basket. Perhaps you are into agriculture today, government policy may change and you may be forced out of business. I’ve gone through so many challenges since 2009 during the global economic meltdown, when almost all businesses collapsed. As a result of the experience, I decided to divest into so many sectors.

As one who is into energy and real estate, we would love to know if there is any form of synergy between the two sectors.

Thank you for this question. This is very important because, at the moment, this is the issue we are experiencing in Nigeria, especially in the housing sector. When you build, you need power, and you cannot build without power but the problem, is when you build an estate, you need backup power and using generating sets in this present economic hardship will be challenging due to the cost of diesel. The maintenance cost of the generator will also not be easy. Therefore, the energy and real estate sectors need to come together because one cannot do without the other and that is what we are doing at Elsahal Group Ltd., we are trying to develop a 100 percent solar estate where occupants will have access to renewable energy sources which I feel is cost-effective when compared with the cost of diesel and maintenance.

What sort of property do you deal in?

Currently, we are into commercial and residential. We are working on building a plaza with hotels and private residential luxury apartments combined. That’s one of the projects we are currently working on and it will commence before the end of the year. We already have the plan; we have done almost all the feasibility studies and preliminary requirements.

Are there plans to develop an estate suitable for experts in the oil and gas sector to enhance collaboration?

We had that plan more than 10 years ago; we proposed this same plan to NNPC before the incorporation into NNPCL- that was before the passage of PIB now PIA. We presented it to them, and we have the records. In fact, we signed a non-disclosure agreement, but unfortunately, up to date, we have not been able to achieve that. So it is one of the plans we actually had but it didn’t come to reality.

Let’s talk about energy transition. How do you see the energy transition impacting your business as one in the energy industry?

The issue we have especially here in Africa… I mean this is not the right time to transit. The Americans and Germans spent more than 100 years developing their field and they are enjoying the process because they’ve already achieved what they want.  Now when you talk about carbon emissions, the west contributes over 80 percent of emissions to the atmosphere compared to Africa. So what we should be talking about is how Africa can harness the large deposits of gas beneath the African soil to produce energy and ensure energy security for our people.

How can Nigeria balance energy transition and economic growth?

Balancing energy transition and economic growth in Nigeria is a complex task, but it’s crucial for sustainable development. It requires strategic planning, policy alignment, and international collaboration. This means that we need to accompany the transition with appropriate policies in place and make sure that all the key stakeholders are fully carried along. This is very essential.

Recently, the Dangote Group accused some IOCs and regulatory agencies of sabotage; do you think the government has the political will to wade into the matter?

If you remember, the last time Valuechain interviewed me, we spoke about this issue and it is quite disturbing to see a mega company like Dangote Group complaining. Imagine what smaller operators will be going through. The government cannot afford to fold its arms and watch things go south. The Dangote Refinery is critical to Nigeria’s economic rejuvenation and any attempt to sabotage it will not be good for our people and the economy. I expect the appropriate regulatory agencies involved to ensure that due process is followed and the various committees in the National Assembly should also carry out proper investigations to unravel the mystery.

Sabo Shehu Malami is the Group Managing Director and founder of the Elsahal Group of companies, he possesses an eclectic mix of competencies that transverse the entire spectrum of business development, energy, agriculture and petrochemicals. His experience consists of 10 years with Sahal Nigeria Limited, where he worked in various capacities across various discipline areas. Sabo is a graduate of Economics. He regularly attends seminars and conferences in a bid to hone his skills and develop new opportunities and contacts for the company’s future developments.

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