The Biggest Power Plant Project vs. My Greatest Sorrow and Weakness

The Singapore-based EPCM contractor is now on board and our budget of US$1.2 billion for the development and construction of this power plant is also halfway structured locally in Namibia for the development of the Groot Power Plant, a 900 MW Gas-fired Power Plant.

Also, a negotiation for the Offtake Agreement is also underway with some of the largest national power distribution companies in Southern Africa. So, my recent overseas trip has been the most successful yet, for our power plant development.

It didn’t however come easy; if you only knew! Lots of hard and bitter personal sacrifices have to be made in order to help realize this project the soonest.

Well, in life nothing good comes easy!

One day, as a Namibian-born, I can sit back and say; at least I tried to do my very best for my beloved, Namibia.

I’ve never been involved in a development of any power plant before (well, Mark Zuckerberg had never developed a facebook prior to Facebook), and I never even knew the concept of how it goes to develop a power plant. So, then how do I go out there and have meetings with people to get it done?

Robbie Jena, the genius – he’s basically the one who guides me, with all the technical mambo jumbos. When there’s something technical that I need to know right away, even though he’s more than 10,000 miles away from me at times, he’s always there to answer every question (yes, we are digitally connected, we live in a technology connected era).

But most of the time, I have to do my own homework, research and analysis; put presentations together (with Robbie), and then I go out there and meet with companies and people to discuss whatever in order to make it happen.

But because we’ve been doing this power plant planning since January 2010, I have learned a lot. So, when I go out there to different meetings and do presentations for our power plant, the terms and phrases that I use now actually make some people think that I’m an expert in this field, but I always tell them that I’m not a power plant engineer, I’m just an economist. But at the end of the meeting, they always refer me to as an IPP (IPP = Independent Power Producer), well I had to look that up.

One day, not too long ago, one of my many meetings at a certain company; I walked in this huge board room, and it was full of executives, two of them were lawyers. Then I looked at them and then I looked at myself, I was sitting on one side of this huge table, and all of them, I think they were 8 of them, all wearing suits and or semi-formal, and I was wearing a pair of jean and a dress shirt, and all looked at me like; hmm, what’s this, perhaps something like that.

But less than 2 minutes later of me talking and doing my presentation, I could see their eyes wide open, may be amazed (or may be sleepy), who knows.

This is what I do best, and if I can’t close a deal in less than 5 minutes, then it will likely never work, no matter how hard I may work it.

So, I’m doing this; backed by our awesome team in Namibia, but technically guided by Robbie, the genius. And it makes me look like I’m a genius too when I go to all these different meetings; especially when I’m responsible for selecting the engineering teams, technical companies, site location, financing, and all of these factors make me feel like I have been doing this for a very long time, but the fact is, it’s not me doing this but Robbie, who has several academic degrees in chemical engineering and one in nuclear engineering. Yes, plus many years of working in engineering field including at NASA, ABB, Honeywell, etc.

So, if I didn’t learn anything from doing all of these by now while learning from Robbie, then I must be a real unbreakable numskull.

Now, what I have is knowledge, not wisdom, that I’ve learned and copied from Robbie, and now I want to transfer and share it with the Namibians, whoever wants to learn from me. That’s why I do those free Public Meetup Series in order to share the little I know with those passionate Namibians.

One day – I may write a book – sort of a Diary, regarding my involvement on these fun projects, or may be not, unless I get a Publisher offer may be?


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