Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said the ongoing expansion in the power sector was done to support expected growth in the countryâ€™s mining sector and other heavy industrial concerns. Fashola said these expansion efforts were in support of the governmentâ€™s planned diversification of the countryâ€™s economy to embrace mining, agriculture and manufacturing.
Speaking at a workshop to educate civil society groups on the import of the Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRP) which the government developed with the World Bank to revive Nigeriaâ€™s ailing power sector, Fashola explained that the government was committed to fully implementing the PSRP.
A statement from his senior special assistant on communications, Mr. Hakeem Bello, on Saturday in Abuja contained this.
He urged Nigerians not to put down the country in comparison with other countries of the world, and said Nigeria is a great country in both population and potentiality for economic and industrial development.
According to him, Nigeria as a nation has taken great strides in the area of development and has the potential to compete favourably with other developed and emerging economies if its citizenry work together. He frowned on the comparison of Nigeriaâ€™s power situation with countries like South Africa and Germany, and said the power that any country needed was not only a function of its population but also a function of the level of its development and industrialisation.
He noted that the power need of a country also depended on the nature of its economy, adding that economies that are driven by research and invention would always need more power.
South Africa, he stated, has its economy largely dependent on mining, and as such consumes a lot of power.
He said the government has now started to pay attention to real growth through economic diversification as seen in the development of mining and others, and that the power sector is being prepared to support such growth.
â€œWe have left mining. We are now in oil and gas. Dr. Fayemi in the ministry of mines and steel is just trying to reset us back. We are trying to support their mining power demands whenever they are ready,â€ said Fashola.
According to him, in comparing Nigeria with a country like South Africa, one must take into cognisance that while Nigeria is largely a trading economy, South Africa is already producing nuclear energy, aircraft and military hardware, using more power.
He also said Ashaka Cement industry in Gombe State, currently consumes 15 megawatts (MW) of electricity, and that there are not many industrial towns of that type in Nigeria at the moment.
In terms of population as a function of energy need of a country, he said: â€œNiger is running on 80MW, Republic of Togo 200MW less than Abuja, Ghana is about 3,000MW installed capacity and they are not producing all of that; Lagos alone is getting 1,200MW, one state, half of another country. So we must understand the dynamics of electricity use.â€
Referring, to a comment that Germany is exporting power, Fashola said: â€œYour country is exporting power too, to Niger, to Republic of Benin, to Togo and we are selling gas to the West African sub-region.â€