Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said that the federal government was working out measures that would improve the distribution capacities of the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeriaâ€™s power sector, and should be done with that by the end of the year.
Fashola, made this disclosure last week in Abuja, when he inaugurated the new chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Prof. James Momoh, after he was confirmed by the Senate for the position which President Muhammadu Buhari, nominated him.
Speaking on the state of affairs in the countryâ€™s power sector, and the governmentâ€™s desire to get the distribution end to be able to send to homes and businesses all generated electricity on the national grid, Fashola, explained that generation and transmission capacities were now 7000 megawatts (MW) apiece while distribution was behind with just 5000MW.
He said that there were challenges that came with the privatisation of the power industry, and listed them to include metering and governance issues, but that the government came up with the Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRP) as a component of its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to solve these challenges and put the sector on the path of sustainable growth.
â€œBy increasing generation to 7,000MW, increasing transmission to over 7,000MW and increasing distribution from 2,690MW to an average of 4,900MW and 5,000MW, clearly that is progress and that is what we must do more.
â€œWhat we see is that like every policy, privatisation will have its challenges. We have gathered all the challenges together and that is what we have put in the PSRP; from meters to governance and one of the governance issues is the full constitution of the NERC with the appointment of the chairman and today one item in the list of to-do items of the PSRP is now completed and we can proudly report that,â€ Fashola said.
According to him, having reportedly solved the governance problem, the other items to be faced include metering and expansion of distribution network.
He stated that although there was an existing capacity of 2,000MW of power that could not be distributed, the government was working to see what it could do quickly to solve the problem before the end of the year.
On electricity generation capacities that could be added to the grid soon, Fashola said he was expecting the Azura Power in Edo State to come on stream fully with about 459MW, as well as Kaduna and Afam plants.
â€œAzura just sent a message that their plant was now completed and was ready to run full operation. That is 459MW of power. We are expecting another 240MW from Afam and another 215MW from Kaduna and also from Kashimbila. There is a lot of power coming. So, the distribution end is where our real challenge lies,â€ he stated.
He also stated that the mini-grid regulations issued recently by the NERC have started producing results with impacts in markets which he said would be fully electrified later this year.
Places like Sura Market in Lagos, Sabon Gari Market in Kano, Ariaria Market in Aba and about 13 other markets across the country, he noted were going to be energised through the programme managed by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA).
â€œSo, the progress we are making inspires us to continue. It reinforces the methods that we have formulated and the choices that we have made, that clearly we are on the right part. This is clearly an elephant and so we are going to break it bit by bit because you canâ€™t eat an elephant whole,â€ he said.
On Buhariâ€™s choice of Momoh to head the NERC and Momohâ€™s acceptance to work at the commission, Fashola stated: â€œI think that it is always easy to complain about what is wrong; but it is much more challenging to volunteer to be part of the problem solving team and that is what Professor Momoh has done in accepting this nomination to serve his country.â€