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OPINION

Nigeria’s Power Sector And Her Economy

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The Nigeria’s power sector is presently yearning for rescue that if drastic measure isn’t taken, soonest the country won’t only reckoned to be synonymous with blackout but a place invariably used as a case-study whenever non-electricity supply is being discussed.

It’s indeed worrisome to acknowledge that in spite of the intimidating size of the acclaimed giant of Africa, both in landmass and population, she’s currently striving toward boasting of steady seven thousand megawatts (7,000MW) of electricity supply, whereas nations like Ghana, South-Africa, Iran, and South-Korea, among others alike, that aren’t up to 60 million people on the average, presently boast of over fifty thousand megawatts (50,000MW). Such a shocking phenomenon calls for thorough examination in the said sector.

During the past administration, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s particularly, the Power Reform Act was introduced, which was aimed at boosting electricity supply. In addition, the then existing National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) was changed to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) owing to concession. National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) was equally initiated.

Piqued by the epileptic power situation, Late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, on assumption of office in 2007, lamented that the government under Chief Obasanjo squandered about $10 billion on the NIPP with little or no effect.

On power sector alone, the administration of Chief Obasanjo reportedly spent $16 billion approximately equivalent to #3.52 trillion, his successor Late Yar’Adua expended $5.375 billion (#1.183 trillion), whilst immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan’s administration spent $8.26 billion (#1.817 trillion). In a nutshell, the country, within the years in review, spent about $29.635 billion amounting to #6.52 trillion only on quest for steady power supply.

It would be recalled that during Dr. Jonathan’s reign, the distribution section/phase of the power sector was totally deregulated, thereby leading to Public-Private Partnership (PPP); a measure that Nigerians thought would salvage the power industry. It’s worth noting that the power sector comprises three major sections (phases) namely: the generation, transmission, and distribution sections. These three phases collectively contribute to the production of the two hundred and twenty Alternating-Current Voltage (AC220V) required by electricity consumers in Nigeria.

Despite all these measures, rather than improving, the country’s power sector remains in a comatose state, or even deteriorates on a daily basis. The various distribution firms, instead of concentrating on how to serve the teeming consumers, end up compounding the already existing plight. At the moment, an electricity consumer in Nigeria, regardless of locality, would be faced with a utility bill even though he never enjoyed any power supply in the past; one might wonder where such bill was fabricated.

          The problem with the Nigerian power sector remains lack of technical know-how cum initiative as well as decay in maintenance culture. Most times, the personnel at the generation phase would inform Nigerians that the supply of gasoline has depreciated due to pipeline vandalism. Suchlike report is ridiculous and laughable in a country like ours that can boast of so many sources of electricity generation in abundance. Frankly, over-dependence on mono-source is really telling on the Nigerian economy at large, not just in the power sector

A few of the country’s mineral resources alone, such as coal and what have you can generate enormous electricity required by the overall Nigerians. Similarly, biomass and wind-power, which are renewable and reliable energy sources – if properly harnessed – can generate electricity that can serve the entire Nigerian population. Biomass can either be used directly via combustion to produce heat, or indirectly after converting it to various forms of biofuel. Its conversion to biofuel can be achieved by different methods broadly classified into chemical, thermal, and biochemical methods.

Besides, why is solar energy in abeyance? Most western countries that cannot boast of a steady fifteen degree Celsius (15*C) depend mainly on solar energy as regards power supply let alone Nigeria that can steadily boast of over thirty degree Celsius (30*C). The country abounds with the four energy sources mentioned so far; but pathetically, the resources are lying fallow. The government needs to create an industry that would produce the required facilities; the proposed approach cannot be actualized without lifting embargo on PPP.

Above all, considering the ongoing power generation via turbine or hydro-plants, there’s compelling need for the government to decentralize the transmission grid. Rather than sustaining the national grid, since it’s obvious that such sustenance is cumbersome, each region or zone ought to be entitled to a transmission grid, thereby easing the maintenance cost.

   The aforementioned approach won’t only reduce cost, but will equally boost adequate and uninterruptible power supply across the federation. The private sector must also be given a room to key in. The various established private transmission grids such as the Power Geometrics in Aba, Abia State invented by Prof. Bart Nnaji and his team needs to be encouraged effectively.

      It’s equally worth noting that the above measures cannot be successfully implemented if hand of fellowship isn’t extended to the cognoscenti. Think about it!

–Nwaozor,  a MediaAmbassador, writes from Owerri



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