Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Dr Kandeh Yumkella, yesterday said lack of consistent long term vision for Nigeria’s power sector by previous administrations was responsible for the crisis in the sector.
Speaking on the sideline of Energy For All Initiative Breakfast meeting with donor agencies in Abuja, he noted that while the current administration’s efforts at fixing the age-long power challenge was yielding results, he however said politicians needed to be told that energy challenge could not be “overcome with quick-fixes.”
Nigeria he said, could not get it right in the past “because of lack of consistent long-term vision linking energy access with industrial transformation. What we do in Africa is ad-hoc policy. When power supply goes off, we get the generator.
We never sat down to ask where we want the nation to be in the next 20 to 25 years, how fast do we want to grow, how much jobs we want to create and what sectors of the economy we need to develop. Instead of putting the generators on, you would have built the hydro power plant and Nigeria has a lot of water.”
Relating his 12 years work experience in Nigeria, he disclosed, “we surveyed the water basins and started some hydro projects, they were never completed. Some were about 90 per cent completed but never turned on. Those dams could be used for irrigation and water supply in cities.
So, you have to link energy access with the ambition of governors to transform their states. We also need to convince the politicians that energy transformation is not a quick fix. It is a long-term strategy of 20 to 30 years.”
The UNIDO boss said Nigeria was blessed with all the resources needed for uninterrupted power supply-gas, water, sun and biofuel, but regretted that the country was flaring huge gas resource which could boost supply a great deal. “We need to stop flaring gas.
I did a workshop in this country in 2001 on zero flaring of gas, it has not happened, that gas can be converted to energy and can be piped into homes so that women and children don’t die from using charcoal. They can do downstream processing for methanol and other products that create jobs and wealth.
We should also know that to reform the energy sector, Nigerians need to pay and we know Nigerians are ready to pay if they can be assured of reliable supply.”