Report from Ministry of Power, Abuja.
A two-day workshop for the validation of the Power Sector Local Content Development Initiative and Policy Documents has opened in Abuja, as the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo challenged stakeholders to come up with acceptable policy direction that would strengthen and consolidate on the gains recorded in the on-going sector reform.
Prof. Chinedu Nebo, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Amb. Godknows Igali, noted that with the three years period after privatization of the key components of the sector, it is time for stock-taking, hence this platform will help develop and delineate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
He enjoined the stakeholders, especially the States, to be informed on the need to do more, as the coast is clear for them to provide electricity to their people with the promulgation of the Electricity Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act, 2005. “Today’s power sector is a deregulated one that has benefited immensely from the gains of privatization”, he said.
The Minister said, with the reform, concrete and tangible results have been recorded in the area of quantum injection of capital – both foreign and local, “It is on record that at the recent privatization exercise, the bulk of the money invested in the sector came from local financiers. Since privatization and subsequent take-over, more technical know-how, application of value-added ICT initiatives for improved processes have also been introduced to the power sector”, he said.
The Minister cited Ughelli Power Plant for instance, which he said, “was doing a paltry output of a little above 100MW before take-over, today is operating on over 600MW, with plans to push close to 800MW soon.”
He observed that, now that there are obvious constraints occasioned by dwindling oil revenue into the nation’s coffer, the private sector are not adversely affected, as bankable proposals from them will bring out this money from their financial institutions.
While lamenting that all the gains that would have been enjoyed by Nigerians in terms of more access to electricity have been wished away by the unpatriotic act of vandalism of pipelines, that has denied the thermal plants access to gas, he said that Government is not folding its arms as increased surveillance, community involvement and close working relationship with new owners and security agencies, led to the arrest of some culprits.
He blamed vandalism for Nigerians not being able to enjoy from improved capacity to produce electricity put at between 5,500MW and 6,000MW.
“We now have improved transmission network resulting from recently completed projects by Transmission Company of Nigeria.”
Beyond gas-fired plants, the Minister said the hydrological endowment if fully harnessed, as envisaged in the new National Policy on Renewable Energy, will see rapid development of hydro potentials.
With the launch of Operation Light-Up Rural Nigeria (OLRN), States are encouraged to de-emphasize the running of their Rural Electrification Programmes on generators, as solar-powered facilities offer a better alternative in terms of environmental friendliness.
He assured them that a lot of foreign development partners and donor agencies are willing to provide money as grants to assist them with solar-powered facilities’ penetration activities.
The intention of Government is to focus on solar in the North, which will also be replicated in other geo-political zones as well. On wind, he said, by next week, the Government will be set to inaugurate 10MW wind-farm in Katsina. The Katsina scheme which is a pilot one, the Minister disclosed will provide the necessary experiences for the replication in other States.
As contained in the Policy Document on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficeincy which has been approved by Government, the Minister reminded the audience of the need for synergy as it would be the ingredient required to overcome some of the problems that would be experienced, but assured them that Government will do all what it can to put the sector on track.
He warned that forthwith, no power sector agency would be allowed to bye-pass States whenever they are executing rural electrification projects. He also called for community related components, as it would ensure buy-In, if the locals are considered as sub-contractors on rural projects.
In the Peer Review session, States of Bayelsa, Gombe, Oyo and Lagos shared their various experiences and pledged to work with the Federal Government in the quest for providing electricity to their people.
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