Manufacturers and distributors of generator sets seem to have discovered a new ‘comfort zone’ in the Nigerian market. Figures from the United Nations Statistics Division on Genset Import/Export reveal that Cummins, FG. Wilsons, Siemens, and other major power firms brought different brands of generators worth $51.1 million into the country between 2014 and 2015 and the figure is projected to hit $450 million by 2020.
The breakdown further showed that Nigeria is the second biggest market for generators in Africa, after Egypt whose import stood at $58.6 million, followed by Ethiopia with $19.9 million, South Africa with $18.6 million and Congo with $6.9 million. Others are Zimbabwe: $5.4 million, Niger: $5.3 million and Mozambique: $4.4 million.
According to Mr. Segun Adaju, Chief Executive Officer of Consistent Energy Limited, and President of the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria, between 60 and 70 million generators of different brands and sizes have been imported into the country, in the past few years.
On this week’s edition of product review, a weekly analysis where Nairametrics features products contending for leadership and prominence in Nigeria’s consumer market, we bring to you the various generator set brands and how they are competing for profitability in the market space.
The Brands in the Nigerian Market
The inability of successive administrations in the country to find a lasting solution to the epileptic power supply has made getting generators a necessity for most businesses and households in the country.
The generator market has two segments: the household segment and the industrial segment. The household segment of the market has generators used by small business owners, residential houses and small offices while the industrial segment has generator sets deployed at hotels, banks, telecommunication, etc.
In the household segment of the market, major players include Tiger, Elepaq, Lutian, Thermocool, Sumec, Firman just to mention a few, while in the industrial segment, Mikano, Cummins, Perkins, FG Wilson and CAT, all battle for market leadership. The generator sets come in different power ratings from the 4.5Kva for small business offices and residential buildings, to the 15Kva, 30Kva, 45Kva, etc., for industrial and commercial usage.
Also, in the bid to extend and consolidate their hold on the highly competitive market, these brands have introduced models with additional features and capabilities to suit the pockets of the various segments of consumers, especially for consumers with low purchasing power. This includes new model generators with remote control, soundproof and automatic switch-over mechanisms when power is cut off, as well as generators with key and button starters. Product quality, durability, customer support services (for industrial generators), fuel economy, ease of maintenance, and availability of spare parts are some of the factors that most customers look out for when buying their generator sets.
The Tiger Manual Gasoline Generator, popularly called “I better pass my neighbor”, is one of the most popular generators in Nigeria because it fits the power needs and budgets of most homes. It is relatively cheap and can power the essential electrical gadgets in most homes.
Mikano International Limited is another major player in the industrial generating set segment. It was established in 1993, to carry out the business of sales, servicing, maintenance, overhauling, and rentals of diesel and gas power generating sets. The company is the largest assembler of power generating sets from renowned generator manufacturers, Perkins and Stamford/Meccalte alternator U.K, providing quality generating sets ranging from 9kva to 2000kva for homes and industries.
SWOT Analysis of the market
The epileptic power supply to households and the growing population in the country has further boosted the market in the country.
Exposure to exhaust fumes from generators has serious health implications. Several families have lost their lives as a result of inhaling the noxious fumes for long periods. Most of them pose great danger to the environment as well.
The seeming lack of political will by the government to address the power problem has made the importation of generator sets into the country a lucrative business.
Attention is shifting to alternative power generation projects across the country. States now employ solar power generation to power public infrastructure. Some residential houses have also adopted solar as an alternative source of power supply.
What Consumers are saying
Nairametrics spoke with some customers in both segments of the market who indicated preferences for their various brands. Engr. Deolu, a telecoms engineer, noted that most telecommunication sites prefer Mikano because it is easy to maintain. He said:
“We use the Mikano brand. I think it is convenient for us; it is reliable and their after sales service is great.”
Mr. Bassey, an Engineer with a popular hotel in Ikeja, revealed his preference for CAT brand.
“From what I noticed, CAT is a quality generator with superior local support, it is environment-friendly.”
A distributor who spoke with Nairametrics noted that the current power situation has made the demand for generating sets to increase.
“Business is good and this is occasioned by the power outage in the country over the past few years. The increase in power consumption in Nigeria, coupled with inadequate power generation capacity and grid infrastructure, has made steady power supply a serious challenge and that has helped the demand for the products.”
A respondent on our Twitter poll revealed his preference for Haier Thermocool. According to him, the brand has an efficient customer support mechanism and they also have showrooms in major cities.
Another respondent also lamented the proliferation of fake and substandard generators in the market. Noting that the popular “I beta pass my neighbor” is no longer reliable.
In a Twitter poll conducted by Nairametrics, industrial generator, Mikano, got 32% and other household brands trail behind. Firman got 27%, Elepaq got 20% while Tiger got 20%.
A review of these brands show that they generally have the same features. Most household generators between 3.5 – 4.5Kva are within the same price range, have key or button starters and fuel-efficient capabilities. Also, industrial generating sets have sound proof features among other features. These keep the competition close, meaning that any brand could overtake the other when it comes to market share.
The demand for generator sets in the country has provided a thriving market for substandard brands to be imported into the country. Government agencies seem to have gone to sleep in this regard.
Brands wishing to gain more market share must come up with fuel-efficient models and additional features that will appeal to customers.