Name: Dr. Sanusi Ohiare
Home Country: Nigeria
Areas of Expertise: Rural Electrification, Finance, & Public-Private Partnerships
Meet Dr. Sanusi Ohiare
One inspiring participant of the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship is Dr. Sanusi Ohiare from Abuja, Nigeria who has dedicated his career to developing strategies for bolstering rural electrification. As a Fellow, he will be provided with insights from senior professionals working for local electric utilities, regulators in state government, and private industry leaders in the areas of energy distribution, renewable energy generation, and energy policy.
Dr. Ohiare is entering the program with an established wealth of knowledge and executive leadership history which enhances his level of engagement with the Fellowship. After recently being tapped by Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari to serve as the executive director of the Rural Electrification Fund Management, he will be able to better serve his country with lessons learned from this experience.
As a doctoral degree holder in Rural Energy Development from De Montfort University in the United Kingdom, he has been able to utilize research from his dissertation in advising government policy in Nigeria. His use of data collection is still prevalent in his work today as he seeks to address energy issues affecting the country.
Public Management Institute on Energy Policy at the University of California
A critical sector garnering mass attention across the African continent and the world at large is energy. For the second year in a row, the Mandela Washington Fellowship included the Public Management Energy Policy Institute in collaboration with Power Africa. Power Africa was launched to bring together technical and legal experts, the private sector, and governments from around the world to work in partnership to increase the number of people with access to power.
The University of California-Davis campus has the privilege of hosting 25 Fellows from 19 African countries in the Public Management Institute on Energy Policy. The institution is a great fit because of it’s leading role in energy related research and development as well as the bustling energy industry in the state of California. The Office of Global Affairs has collaborated with key stakeholders across the university to offer an intense program schedule centered on leadership training and experiential learning.
In addition to leadership training, the Institute on Energy Policy will focus its academic sessions on creative and pragmatic energy policies and legal practices which foster efficient markets for energy without sacrificing the environment. Fellows have been observing innovative campus projects like West Village, the largest planned “zero net energy” community in the United States and the Solar Farm, a 62-acre plot generating 14% of UC’s electricity.
Off campus, participants are touring an array of both public and private entities, like the California State Capitol and California ISO, an independent organization providing access to the bulk of the state’s wholesale transmission grid. This combination of diverse perspectives exposes the Fellows to new opportunities and methods of leadership.
Dr. Ohiare’s Vision
Like many other Mandela Washington Fellows, Dr. Ohiare has a lot of work waiting for him back home and he schedules time to stay on top of his responsibilities between program lectures and tours. As a public official, his key interest is in securing a better future for Nigerians and he “is looking to see what [he] can take back to affect [his] people” through his role with the Rural Electrification Fund (REF).
This time last year, before Dr. Ohiare’s appointment in the agency, The REF was dormant and inoperative receiving widespread criticism from the public. Now, with a new government and leadership team in place, the REF seeks to fulfill its mission of promoting, supporting and providing rural electrification programs through Public Private Partnerships. With this being his first year on the job, there are many new policies and procedures to be implemented which will build momentum in a positive direction.
From his observation, Dr. Ohiare expresses admiration for the extent to which energy regulations are strictly adhered to in California and would like to see providers in Nigeria hold themselves to similar standards. He makes the comparison between utility companies and the generators in the U.S. having to pay fines when electricity isn’t provided as planned while providers in Nigeria regularly leave customers with no light without any reprimand. A key difference between the two countries is that the regulators in the states work independently with strong oversight of market participants as opposed to heavy political interference back home. Dr. Ohiare asks, “what is the incentive for Nigerian electricity providers to follow the rules”? A question that will most likely serve as a point of reflection as he works to lead people in charge of various projects.
Before arriving to the states, Dr. Ohiare began networking with key stakeholders interested in the development of Nigeria’s electricity sector like the World Bank, African Development Bank, and Power Africa. One of his goals is to attract global funds into the REF which can provide additional support for the country. After his time at UC-Davis, Dr. Ohiare, along with all other Fellows will convene in Washington, DC for the 4th annual Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit from July 31-August 2. Here, he will have the opportunity to make connections with companies and organizations doing work in Africa during the 2017 Summit’s Partnership Expo.
Once the Summit is over, the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship will officially end and Dr. Ohiare will return to Abuja, Nigeria to impart what he has learned with leaders in his organization.
You can follow Dr. Sanusi Ohiare on Twitter at; @Sohiare
Obafemi Ogunleye is an international educationist with a research focus on African development. His writing seeks to raise awareness and understanding of issues concerning the globalization of higher education and ways in which programs support cross-cultural exchange.