NewsReel 30/1/15 - Powering & Lighting-Up Nigeria

[ Masterweb Reports: Peter Obi reports ] -As the fulcrum of sustainable socio-economic growth and development, the power sector is a critical element in the progress of modern societies – a fact clearly appreciated by the Jonathan administration.


At the policy level, the President reconstituted the Presidential Action Committee on Power, with himself as chairman and Vice-President Sambo as his deputy. Other critical memberships include Secretary to the Federal Government, Ministers of Power, Finance & Petroleum as well as selected captains of industry. The records show the President has not missed any of the Committee’s meetings. The implementation process of the Power Sector Road-Map is ably managed by a Presidential Task Force of high-grade professionals. 


 The courageous unbundling of the ubiquitous Power Holding Company of Nigeria [PHCN], and the decentralization of its constituent Generating and Distribution Companies across the land, have vastly boosted performance of the sector.


This exercise has already started yielding fruits. The Azura power plant in Edo State, for instance was flagged of 2 months ago, a feat that would have been impossible so are many other independent power projects. The Ugheli power plant which was generating less than 200 MW before being handed over to private company now generates over 610 Mw. The new owners are planning to add additional 1000MW in due time. This would not have been possible but for the privatisation. What happened in the telecom sector would soon be replicated in the power sector.


 As at 2014, the Jonathan administration had completed 10 power plants under the Nigerian Independent Power Plant [NIPP] scheme; and their sale is on-going. The commissioned plants include those at Olorunsogo [563mw], Sapele [225mw] and Omotoso [112.5mw].  Currently, the country generates about 4,500mw of power, with increases expected in 2015. 

 
The Rural Electrification Agency [REA] was reactivated in mid-2012, and in barely two years it has invested in over 300 rural electrification projects across the country. Given the rate of progress on the projects, it will be a matter of course for the agency to literally ‘light-up’ rural Nigeria; affording that major segment of the populace access to additional means of livelihood and comforts of modernization.  Other benefits include stemming the rural-urban drift and associated adversities; boosting agro-productivity, processing, preservation and storage; promoting the growth of rural industries and enterprises; attracting unemployed and under-employed urban dwellers to the rural areas. 

 
As part of efforts to expand its vista, the REA is pursuing collaboration with such proven Development Partners as the Bank of Industry, Japan International Co-operation Agency, UN Industrial Development Organization, UN Development Programme and German International Development Programme. 


 To complement power generating capacities, the Jonathan administration is expanding and strengthening the capacities of the nation’s transmission system. The Transmission Company of Nigeria [TCN], under the management of the renowned Manitoba Hydro International, is currently firming up the critical linkages between electricity supply and demand. Meanwhile, Power China Corporation is to build 20,000mw-capacity power plants and sub-stations, with transmission lines stretching for some 10,000 kilometres.

 
 The Jonathan administration is also progressively exploring and exploiting other sources of energy for the country possesses vast potentials. Among these – in which investors have shown deep interest – are energy from solar [sun], wind, biomass, coal, and water. It has revitalized the nation’s hydro-electric power base, including major investments in Kainji, Mambilla [3,050mw] and Zungeru [700mw].


 Concomitant with the establishment of power plants and related facilities are the massive investments in capacity building. There is now a National Power Training Institute [NAPTIN]; and its structures and facilities include: headquarters & 8 regional training centres, power system training simulator, workshops, demonstration plants, trainee hostels and guest houses.


There are also exchange programmes abroad and extensive industrial training platforms in tertiary institutions.       To date, over 6,000 sector professionals have benefited from various training programmes across the land.


There have been [mostly extraneous] challenges that have threatened the attainment of the goals of the power sector road map. These include sabotage& vandalization of gas pipelines & some other facilities; and outright theft of equipment & accessories. These have been perpetuated largely by local and international syndicates – incurring billions of Naira in repair–works and delays in fulfillment of targets. For instance, the eastern axis gas pipeline at Okoloma disrupted the operations of plants of the Rivers State Government, Afam and Shell – with a loss of some 400 megawatts. Similarly, sabotage in the western axis [at Escravos] involved a loss of 1,500 megawatts. 
 

 Despite these trip-wires, Nigeria not only has the largest economy in Africa, but also the biggest population – with its varied domestic, office and industrial power requirements. The sector continues to attract the interest of local and foreign investors; an indication of growing confidence in its management. Strategic partnerships have been forged with such long-established operators as General Electric, Siemens AG, Daewoo E&C, Electricite de France, Enterprise de Transporte et Distribution D’electricity, and Electrobate. The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Federal Government and some of these global players is a commitment by each of them to help build up to 10,000MW-capacity in the country. Many other reputable power companies have been to Nigeria and indicated their desire to participate in the entire value-chain of power delivery.


Indeed, the benefits from the successful fulfilment of the power sector reform will far exceed the benefits of the telecommunications revolution. 

 
As we are about to cast our votes, may I call on Nigerians to realize that the Government of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has set many developmental projects in motion. Beyond sentiments, now is the time for Nigerians to rally round him. He needs this next term to consolidate on his administration’s achievements. Even as projects such as the Kaduna-Abuja rail line are nearing completion, the next term will enable him successfully fulfill others, among which are those in the power sector. 

 
He has commenced quite a number of projects that will guarantee 24 hours electricity availability in the country. We should support him to conclude the vital task of lighting-up Nigeria.

 

Mr. Peter Obi is the former Gov. of Anambra State and the Deputy Director General of the PDP National Campaign Council
 

 

*Photo Caption - Mr. Peter Obi (LEFT); President Goodluck Jonathan (RIGHT)

 

 
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