Muhammed Aziz Khan (born 1955) is a Bangladeshi businessman, founder and chairman of the Summit Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Bangladesh, whose power projects generate nearly 20 percent of Bangladesh’s electricity.
Khan has led Summit Group from starting as Bangladesh’s first private sector power producer to a diversified group with investments across power, energy trading, port, telecommunications, hospitality and real estate.
A renowned businessman in Bangladesh and abroad, Mr Khan has led Summit in building partnerships with multinational institutions such as GE, IFC and Wartsila. While securing billions of dollars in financing for infrastructure projects within Bangladesh, Mr Khan has recently pledged to invest another $3 billion into Bangladesh’s energy sector.
Muhammed Aziz Khan, chairman of Summit Group barely needs an introduction.
Known as the ‘Power Man’ in Bangladesh’s business arena, Aziz Khan’s Summit Power is responsible for more than 13 percent share of Bangladesh’s electricity generation market, operating 15 power plants with a combined capacity of about 1,200 megawatts (MW).
The numbers however doesn’t reveal the true extent of his contribution to the business and industries of Bangladesh.
Just a decade ago, Bangladesh was struggling with serious shortage of electricity and load-shedding was an everyday phenomenon.
Electricity generation was confined within the state-run agencies with few private players left in the lurch without any sort of policy support.
After the Awami League led government came to power in 2009, the power sector made almost a 180 degree turn. From a paltry 4,000 plus megawatt capacity, the country within a decade now has a generation capacity hovering somewhere around 15,000 megawatt.
Aziz Khan’s Summit Power, being the largest shareholder of the private power producer’s pie is thus literally responsible for “lighting up the house of a large chunk of population.”
Summit Power International has recently planned to list on the Singapore Exchange Ltd (SGX), which is likely the first company from Bangladesh to offer shares in the city-state, as it seeks to raise funds to invest in assets across Asia.
Summit is not only working in electricity generation, other subsidiaries of the Group are actively looking for energy alternatives in Bangladesh’s fast dwindling natural gas scenario.
It is now developing Bangladesh’s second floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) to handle LNG imports, with the ability to regasify and add 500 million cubic feet per day (cfd) of natural gas to the national grid.
This visionary businessman and industrialist recently talked to Fintech for what resulted in a brief but illeminating interview. Here is an excerpt for our readers.
FINTECH: Summit Power is by far the largest private power producer in Bangladesh? What are the main reasons behind this success?
M.A Khan: The ability to understand the customers’ requirement is always the key to success. Summit values its customers the most. In our case it is the government of Bangladesh via its largest utility Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB). Since BPDB supplies for the people of Bangladesh, our ultimate customers are the people of Bangladesh. Keeping in view the demands and necessities of Bangladesh, we try to provide the lowest cost electricity. That I guess is our foundation and core objective.
FINTECH: Summit group has business interests in diversified areas but most notably in energy and power and IT and Telecommunication sector. Why?
M.A Khan: Summit prefers to provide infrastructure for the development of Bangladesh. The growth of a nation is reliant upon infrastructure. All our businesses are therefore to build and or improve infrastructure. Electricity is infrastructures’ infrastructure. Even IT is dependent on electricity. This generation of electricity is our business.
Also the world has become “Internet of Things” and the highway of Internet is fibre optic. To make a “Digital Bangladesh” we need extensive fibre optic network. Thus our effort is to provide first class fibre optics lines all over Bangladesh, so that every person in Bangladesh has access to electricity and Internet.
FINTECH : Experts have long been critical of the success of the oil based rental power plants saying that these plants will bleed country’s economy in the long run. What is your opinion about this?
M.A Khan:“Rental” is a misnomer. If you look at the demand of electricity, you will see it fluctuates in quite unpredictable manner. While the demand of electricity at 8 pm could be 15,000 mw, at 3 am it can become 7,500 mw. To provide for this sudden surge of demand we need reciprocating engine based power plants. This has been mistakenly named “Rental”.
FINTECH: What is Summit’s plan for energy alternatives given the fact that the country run out of natural gas will within the next decade. Does it have any plan to heavily invest on renewable energy?
M.A Khan: Bangladesh requires a lot of electricity, in thousands of megawatt. Thus the most cost effective, environmentally friendly provisioning of electricity is by generating from natural gas. Since international price of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) has fallen and is likely to remain low, the ideal solution is to import LNG and generate electricity from gas and imported Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO).
FINTECH: What is your opinion about the condition of the current foreign investment facility in Bangladesh? Do you think the investors are interested in Bangladeshi market?
M.A Khan: Bangladesh has become an ideal place for investment. In the back drop of world financial liquidity and very Low returns around the world, the best destination for foreign direct investment could be Bangladesh. Also Bangladesh’s humanitarian actions in relation to Rohingya crisis and migrants have shown the world, what a good country Bangladesh is. I hope and believe, investment in Bangladesh will not be a problem.
What Bangladesh requires to improve upon are the regulatory provisions, especially in relation to being one of the highest taxed countries in the world and one of the most onerous foreign currency regimes in the world. I am certain Bangladesh will achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and will become Golden Bengal. ■