Government officials, business executives, Civil Society Organisations, energy experts and the media on Tuesday in Abuja gathered at the International Conference Centre to identify the challenges posed by Nigeria’s intractable power challenges and offer solutions.
The experts, who brainstormed on the nation’s energy sector in moderated sessions, agreed that urgent reforms were needed to bring the sector to par with global standards.
The event was the 7th edition of the N-PoD Monthly Policy Dialogue (Summit) which was organised by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Policy Development/Analysis.
The topic which pegged discussions by the panellists was tagged: ‘The power sector’s unending challenges and new perspectives’.
Ibrahim Hassan, the SSA to the president on policy development and analysis, who organised the event, said the experts gathered to proffer solutions to help the government address its over a decade long power crisis and present same to his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, through the SSG.
Some of the experts who spoke at the event included Ransome Owan (lead discussant), Managing Director, Aiteo Power and Gas Group; Muazu Magaji, Chairman, NNPC AKK Pipeline Project Delivery and Industrialisation Committee; Justice Derefaka, Technical Adviser, Gas Business and Policy Implementation, Dauda Abdul-aziz of the North-South Power Company Ltd and other industry officials.
PREMIUM TIMES in May analysed how 11 years after ex-president, Musa Yar’Adua’s death, Nigeria’s electricity challenges remain, some argue, has worsened.
The newspaper also reported that although installed generation capacity, mostly from thermal and hydro sources, has improved over the years, less than 50 per cent of the generated power is being distributed to Nigerians.
This challenge and the need to offer new perspectives formed the basis of the discussion at the summit which also had a large virtual audience both locally and internationally.
The minister of power, Mamman Saleh, who started the conversation in a virtual submission from one of his aides, said some of the major challenges facing the nation’s power aspirations were lack of adequate infrastructure, implementation of policies, revenue, and distribution of power.
He said it was sad that while Nigeria has 23 power generating plants connected to the national grid with the capacity to generate 13, 000 MW of electricity, it could only distribute about 4500.
”We have over 13, 000 MW of generation capacity but what we are able to distribute is about 4500,” he said. ”Beyond this ‘misalignment’ of energy capacity, we have the challenge of paltry remittance from the downstream participants, that is the distribution companies as well as the problem of low uptake of stranded capacity in the whole power system of unserved grid buyers.”
Mr Owan, who led the discussions offered three new perspectives he opined would radically address Nigeria’s power challenges.
He said it was time Nigeria started/enhanced a ‘free meter saturation programme’ which would increase energy capacity, access, and revenue ultimately. He also proposed a ‘city by city power 24/7 programme’, which he said should be a leaf borrowed from the nation’s mobile phone industry.
In addition, he advocated a process whereby the government would attract industries and growth around power plants.
In concluding his thoughts on the new perspectives Nigerian should be mulling, he said: ”Nigerian should stay the course of privatisation, and avoid policy somersaults”.
He also said while reforms were necessary, it was also important to make the sector investment-friendly.
He said ”The velocity of metered electricity or power to the consumer must be equal to the revenue coming back to the operators. However, in our nation, there is an inequality sign which translates to revenue shortfall and this is one of the challenges we must address.”
Mr Abdulaziz, in his short submission, said Nigeria’s capacity to generate optimal energy levels may stagnate if there are no programmes to sustain it even as demand spikes due to the rising population.
He also said power systems globally take a long time to take shape, enabling policies must be implemented to ensure all targets are met.
Meanwhile, Mr Muazu, who said the DISCOs (distribution firms) are like ‘sick babies’ whose needs must be tended to achieve success and results in the power sector, also added that reforms must involve the bringing in of real operators ”who truly understand how the system works”.
He also proposed an ”adjustment in the current privatisation equity” so as to enhance the optimal performance of the sector.
”We need to refocus to have an identity of its own and a brand we must be able to hold accountable,” he said. ”There are of course vested interests as in every sector, but we must have the courage to do the right thing for our people.
PREMIUM TIMES also reported how the summit also attracted economic experts, government officials and leadership consultants, who gathered in May to deliberate on how the country can successfully navigate its recent exit from recession and ensure sustainable economic growth.
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