SINCE 1999, policies have been emerging to solve the challenges in the nation’s power sector, such as former president Olusegun Obasanjo spending N1.2 trillion on the controversial National Integrated Power Project (NIPP).
FORMER President Umaru Yar’Adua, Obasanjo’s successor, also carried out reforms at resolving the nation’s power crisis, such as ordering a new task force to triple the country’s electricity generation capacity within 18 months to 6,000 additional megawatts, from a generating capacity of 3,000 megawatts. Similarly, former President Goodluck Jonathan didn’t sleep over the conundrum, making initiatives towards resolving the problems, such as splitting the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) into six generating and 11 distributing firms, selling them separately for about $2.5 billion in total.
DESPITE the policies enacted by Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan, estimated at N2.4 trillion, power generation remains below 4,000 megawatts, a far cry from Nigeria’s potential to generate at least 12,522 megawatts, according to a recent report in a national daily. South Africa’s Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy announced sometimes ago that the country’s total domestic electricity generation capacity stands at 58,095 megawatts, to cater for a population of 59.39 million people in 2021.
EGYPT’s total amount of electricity generation reached 58,818 megawatts in the 2020/2021 period, to satisfy the demand of a population estimated at 109.3 million in 2021. Algeria occupies the third position on the Africa continent in relation to power generation, since its electric production capacity in 2021 hit around 21.69 megawatts, to serve a population of just 46 million people.
COMPARED to these nations, The Hope believes the current power generation of below 4,000 megawatts comes across as too low for Nigeria, considering her population estimated to be 214.4 million people.
The Buhari administration invested about N900 billion in the power sector as of 2022, and despite borrowings by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and loans for capital projects, Nigeria still experiences epileptic electricity supply, suggesting that the government’s investment in the area may be on the low side. According to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), the Electricity Power Reform Act of 2005 came with good ideas, but despite the good intentions, the TCN could not prosecute most of the 44 projects in 2016, after having been paid 50 percent of its budget, leading the non-replacement of its equipment.
DURING the process of privatising the power sector, the government announced preferred bidders for the 11 power distribution firms and six power plants, and due to lack of transparency, critics believe unqualified bidders and political interests prevented the consideration of many companies with the capacity to handle the situation.
MANY blame lack of transparency, non-replacement of equipment and poor investment for the crisis in the power sector today, and this explains ugly ramifications in the nation’s life, contrary to the expectations that followed the energy act in 2005.For instance, the poor supply of electricity raises the cost of doing business by about 35 percent, with manufacturers spending N144.5 billion in 2022 on alternative energy sources, up from N77.22 billion in the year before.
THE poor generation of electricity constricts the opportunity of those living in the rural areas to access power, something plausible with the nation’s peak generation for September 2023 hitting just 4,632 megawatts. The poor infrastructure of the sector results in the repeated collapse of the national grid, the event happening at least four times last year, making power generation to fall to zero at times.
GIVING the huge cost of doing business in Nigeria, the inability of rural dwellers to access power and the poor infrastructure, The Hope calls on the federal government to deplore modern technology in the sector. The hydra-headed obstacles caused by corruption should be tackled by stakeholders, through the use of the skills of private investors. The federal government should do the needful by implementing policies to improve power generation, such as the replacement of obsolete equipment towards the transformation of the sector. Higher institutions should be given a role to play in the current crisis, using their knowledge in power generation for the national good.
When stakeholders tackle the issue of corruption, the nation’s power generation increases, especially when the federal government faces the challenge of poor infrastructure, and with tertiary institutions bringing their power-generating capacity to face the common challenge.