One of the biggest challenges that successive Nigerian administrations have largely and arguably failed to address is electricity. The situation with electricity has barely changed despite million of naira being pumped into the sector.

For every problem, there is always a tech solution. A startup that is exploring technology to find solutions in no small measure to Nigeria’s electricity problem is Fedironics through a product called iMetre. iMetre has received international accolades for its efforts. One of the biggest so far is being named runners-up at the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. Sadly, the Nigerian government is yet to recognise the efforts of the startup in any form.

In this exclusive and interesting interview, Ugochukwu Ifediora, founder at Fedironics spoke about Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation win, his ambition for his startup and much more. Excerpts

Can you tell us about Fedironics and what it has to offer Nigerians?

Fedironics Intelligent Metering Company is a smart metering company founded and incorporated in 2016. At Fedironics we believe that everyone has a personal power and that access to electricity is key to unleashing this power for the good of humanity. Fedironics provides iMeter, a smart and affordable electricity meter designed to improve access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa starting from Nigeria, by giving electricity consumers and utility companies control over how electricity is used through smart metering technology, electricity theft prevention, convenient energy management and bill payment software solutions.

What is the motivation for setting up Fedironics?

Growing up in our community Aba, south-east Nigeria, inaccurate and outrageous electricity bills were a nightmare because you get disconnected if you don’t pay. My mother paid in tears most times. Today, it has grown worse with energy theft at its highest level, because some consumers avoid paying for power consumed through meter bypass, while consumers that have no meters are made by the utilities who lose revenues to pay for what they haven’t consumed through estimated bills, leading to poor electricity access for those who can’t afford this.

This inspired my career path in the Electricity Utilities and later the creation of the Intelligent Meter (iMeter) which gave birth to Fedironics Intelligent Metering Company. iMeter has a hardware and a software part. It is patented in Nigeria and has received International Telecommunications Union’s Excellence Award.

Winning the silver medal of the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation was an inspiring experience for us because it has made us double our efforts to make sure that iMeter fully penetrates the market so as to provide great services for DISCOs and electricity users.

How will you describe the reception of iMeter by Nigerians so far?

READ  African Gaming & App Devt Startups Invited to Apply For African App Launchpad Cup

The reception of iMeter has been very great. We have had meetings with some DISCOs who want to provide their customers with iMeter before the end of the year. During our product validation process, a lot of electricity users were so happy to hear of its benefits to them especially it’s affordability.

Your startup was recently named among the three runners-up at the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation and was rewarded with £10,000. How do react to this win?

Winning the silver medal of the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation was an inspiring experience for us because it has made us double our efforts to make sure that iMeter fully penetrates the market so as to provide great services for DISCOs and electricity users.

What role is iMeter playing to tackle the problem of limited power supply in Nigeria? Have you had any contact with the government to present your solution?

We have not yet had contact with the government directly but we are already in business with some DISCOs. iMeter has a hardware and software parts. The roles include: iMeter is much more affordable and smarter than any electricity meter in the market today. This will make the cost of metering consumers affordable for DISCOs unlike what it is today, iMeter uses smart metering technology that provides accurate digital energy measurements, billing, and tariff management, iMeter detects meter bypass and 5 energy thefts with the location and reports in real time to Utilities, iMeter’s utility mobile and web applications provide big data management and analysis for DISCOs and it has a consumer mobile and web application software that provides energy management and convenient payment solution.

How will you rate the country in terms of energy sustainability?

READ  Nigeria's AgricTech Startup EZ Farming Selected For 500 Startups Accelerator Program

Nigeria is not at a good level on the energy sustainability rating but this present government is making a great effort that I must commend the honourable minister of power Hon. Babatunde Fashola on his great initiatives with corresponding results towards improving energy sustainability across Nigeria.

What are the challenges of running your startup in Nigeria? Where do you see iMeter in the next five years?

The major challenges we have in running our startup in Nigeria include access to funds and long bureaucratic processes of some government agencies. In the next five years, Fedironics will be one of the leading smart metering companies by impact in Nigeria as we hope to install over a million iMeter’s across Nigeria. And also pioneer the Internet of Things (IoT) integration in the energy management space in Nigeria.

How will you describe the Nigerian startup space?

The Nigerian startup space is the most energetic I have seen. Though we still need to continually improve our knowledge base as entrepreneurs, we’ve got the passion and the momentum to put Nigerian economy in the first 10 in the world, a few years from now.

What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?

I think entrepreneurship is a “Calling” with a big “Why”. When you are at that point of giving up, the strength of your “Why” is tested and if it’s strong enough, you will have a unique paradigm shift about who you are and your purpose on earth which fuels you up to keep going till you see results. Then these results also add more fuel to your passion. For me, a big “Why” with a strong focus and passion will make any entrepreneur.