Japhet E Miano: Kenya’s future energy leader at the World Energy Council

Japhet Miano
Japhet Miano

Japhet E. Miano Kariuki is a financial markets expert from Kenya utilising his oil & energy expertise in Asia. I recently found out that he was selected to be one of the Future Energy Leaders on the World Energy Council. He agreed to a Question and answer and he explained few things I didn’t know. Here is the whole interview

1. What do you miss the most about back home?

This is a tough one!

However most of all I miss my mother’s home cooked chapati and lentils stew dish, the deep fried tilapia and ugali served at the Nairobi CBD stalls, the mbuzi choma and kienyeji at tamasha, the thrill and intrigues of participating in the actualization of vision 2030 under the jubilee administration and finally the occasional trip to my grandparents home where life seems so idyllic and decoupled from the global economy.

2. So why did you leave Germany and what have you been doing in Manila in the last year?

That’s a very good question!

Immediately after concomitantly pursuing my undergraduate studies at the University of Nairobi and managing AIESEC in Kenya, I deemed it prudent to acquire some international corporate experience. I settled on Deutsche Post DHL (DP DHL) – the world’s leading mail and logistics services Group. DP DHL was launching its First Choice global quality management program back then. The comprehensive worldwide continuous process improvement method comprises of tools and practices taken from Six Sigma and Lean, and adapts them from a manufacturing environment to the needs of the service sector. What’s unique about First Choice is that it covers all aspects of managing a business – Organization and Skills, Behavior and Mindset, Change Management, Performance Management and Processes.

This was a baptism by fire period as everyday was so intense and fast paced, equivalent to drinking water from a fire hydrant. At a very young age I got to work alongside the senior most executives of the group. Thereafter, I quickly transitioned to Deutsche Post DHL In-house Consulting (DP DHL IC) – the internal strategy and management consultancy of Deutsche Post DHL where the assignments encompassed advising on strategic issues, developing new strategies and concepts, defining innovative business models, helping turnaround unprofitable businesses and optimizing existing structures for all business units of Deutsche Post DHL.

What was remarkable of the Deutsche Post DHL In-house Consulting experience was the depth and breadth of exposure to the business. In addition, the pace got even faster; the assignments more visible and most importantly I got an enhanced high level view of DP DHL’s operations. However, I realized that in order to create tangible sustainable value on a global scale it was paramount to master the applications of ROIC, FCF, Economic Profit, Enterprise Value, Bolt-on Acquisitions, Real Options Analysis, TRS etc.

I matriculated at the Gent campus of the Vlerick Business School -a school consistently ranked amongst the top business schools in Benelux, Europe and the world- where I undertook post graduate studies in Financial Management with a Financial Markets specialization. The school lives up to its reputation as a bridge between academic theory and professional practice characterized by the different learning methods adopted such as classroom teaching, case method, field trips, group assignments, individual exams, industry expert lectures, business games, international business competitions and a final in-company consulting project. I undertook my project at the BNP Paribas Fortis investment bank in Brussels.

After my studies I was very certain that I would seek a career in the financial services, oil and energy or the technology sector. The challenging decision was where to be based?

I settled on an emerging markets experience in The Philippines with the Shell Companies in The Phillipines (SciP) which represents various companies operating in oil and gas exploration, extraction, refining and delivery to consumers. SciP is part of Shell, the global group of energy and petrochemicals companies operating in more than 90 countries and territories.

Shell was rolling out its comprehensive worldwide continuous process improvement method -operational excellence- comprising of tools and practices taken from the Lean and the Toyota Production System (TPS), my challenge was to adapt my expertise from my prior training in the service sector to the needs of a manufacturing environment. Again I was very fortunate to have a rapid fire introduction into the energy world as over the last one year I have handled assignments at the oil refinery in Tabangao, Batangas (Downstream), at Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation (PSPC) in Makati, Metro Manila (Corporate Functions) and at the Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) Alabang, Muntinlupa (Upstream) an operator of the Malampaya Deepwater Gas-to-Power. Malampaya represents the largest and most significant industrial investment in the history of the Philippines. It heralded the birth of the country’s natural gas industry, enabling the supply of clean, environment- friendly fuel and providing 2,700 megawatts of power to Luzon for a period of 20 years.

One of the best choices I may have made! In hindsight, when I arrived in the early 2012 the Philippine economy was expanding by a tepid 3.7% in both Q4 and the full year of 2011. The government was under-spending its budget and exports demand was deemed weak. The Services sector supported by real estate, financial intermediaries, and business process outsourcing (BPO) gains continued to provide the impetus for economic growth. Astoundingly, recently the Philippines became the fastest-growing economy among Asian countries during the first quarter of the year, with a better-than-expected growth rate of 7.8 %. Driven by strong manufacturing and construction sectors, the Q1 growth was the highest since President Aquino took office in 2010 surpassing China at 7.7 %, Indonesia at 6.0 %, Thailand at 5.3 % and Vietnam at 4.9 %.Coupled with the country’s first investment-grade rating by a major ratings agency, we can say with much pride that this Asian tiger is finally awake

3. What this the new role you have? What does it entail and do we expect any benefits in Kenya apart from associating with you?

There is lots of benefits for all, let me illustrate how!

The World Energy Council (WEC’s) Future Energy Leaders (FELs) form a community of exceptional, young professionals who share a commitment to shaping the global energy future. Coming from all regions of the world and representing diverse sectors such as government, industry, academia, civil society & social entrepreneurship, we represent the true future of energy leadership.

I am among the developing countries Future Energy Leaders from Kenya.

I will begin on an individual level.

It would be very difficult to achieve the theme of “Securing Tomorrow’s Energy Today” if individual consumption is maintained at the same business as usual patterns. However, one may argue that the African individual per capita energy consumption is nowhere compared to the OECD individual. Which is true, but should we wait to reach those stratospheric levels to realize that we are headed down an unsustainable path? As East Africans and by large Africans I would want us to view it as though destiny provided as a blank sheet of paper to begin the architecture of our energy future.

Hence;

1.) How do we address fuel poverty as we seek to ascend the energy ladder?

2.) How do we engender into the populace concepts such as smarter mobility, renewable energy and sustainable cities; all on the looming background of energy poverty?

3.) How do we foster the studies of science and technology, economics and geology to ensure we create leapfrog market opportunities for the energy sector? This is very possible as we have pioneered with M-Pesa, BebaPay and Equity Bank.

Secondly, on an national level.

How do we address the recent releases from the Ministry of energy on potential oil finds? Recently, a major oil company announced discovery on its prospecting for oil in block 10 BB in Turkana County. It is reported that they discovered oil in Ngamia-1 well, at a depth of between 846 and 1041 meters, established over 20 metres of what is technically referred to as OIL-PAY.

1.) How do we as a nation avoid the natural resource curse and the Dutch disease that has plagued many of our neighbors?

2.) How do we ensure a sustainable energy policy that exploits all our natural resources’, i.e. solar, biomass, hydro-electricity, geo thermal, wind, oil and natural gas?

3.) What kind of energy mix can we adopt that shall address fuel poverty, rampant cases of black-outs and reduce our dependence on foreign oil?

Finally, on a global level.

The world’s population is projected to reach 7 billion early in 2015 and surpass 9 billion people by 2050. As this happens, wealth increases, more people ascend the energy ladder, and move into rapidly expanding cities, there will be increased stress on our energy, water and food resources. The energy system will struggle to match this surging demand for easily accessible energy. Therefore, the underlying global demand for energy by 2050 could triple from its 2000 level if we carry on as usual. As well, the ordinary rates of supply growth will tend to follow a negative downward trend due to the natural constraint on resource availability. Hence, facing an energy resource gap!

Hence;

1.) How do we address this looming energy resource gap without resorting to wars?

2.) How do we address the Stress Nexus of Food, Energy, Climate and Water?

3.) How does Kenya position herself as a potential global energy player through the commercial exploitation of her natural resources’?