By Emmanuel Addeh
The federal government Tuesday said that it is giving more attention to electrification of rural areas in the country because of the need to empower those who live in villages and ensure that their small-scale businesses survive.
The Minister of State, Power, Mr Goddy Jedy-Agba, who interacted with some journalists in his office, explained that rural dwellers are also more likely to pay their electricity bills without complaining in contrast to urban dwellers.
In attendance during the meeting were the Managing Director, Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Mr Ahmad Salihijo; Managing Director, Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), Mr Peter Ewesor; and Director General, National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), Ahmed Nagode.
Jedy-Agba said that the federal government would continue to provide power for under-served communities in Nigeria so as to encourage people who live outside the towns and cities to engage in small businesses and preserve farm produce by processing them.
He said: “Travelling by road from here through Nassarawa State, you see fruits and food on the road wasting. If there’s power, industries can be created to process those fruits and sell them. If you go to Korea, you see these things. The woman who sells roadside food can grind pepper. If artisans have light, their trade will improve.
“There’s a community in Niger State that we electrified last year. When they saw the light, it was like, permit me to say, Jesus came down to them. The villagers pay for light, but you and I don’t . We consume and complain. The villagers don’t because they know they consume X and they pay.”
The minister added that because of his personal passion for the poor, more attention is now being devoted to the rural areas, including through the provision of off-grid sources of power supply.
The NEMSA MD, in his remarks, restated the ban on the misuse of the 33KV lines in the country, noting that it was one of the major causes of load shedding.
He noted that NEMSA would continue to monitor all categories of electrical installations to ensure safety in the industry, insisting that no electrical installation in Nigeria can be constructed without the certification of the organisation.
Ewesor stressed that in the last few months, NEMSA had carried out the inspection of over 5,652 new electrical installations nationwide.
He said: “When we test transformers, they should be able to transfer voltage from 330 KVA to 132 KVA or 132kv to 33kv and 33 to 11 which we use in houses. They need to meet requirements.
“A lot of transformers are imported whose specifications are at variance with regulations. Somebody will install 500kv transformer, then use 150 mm as the output cable. What that means is that if the transformer is utilised to highest capacity it’s expected to deliver, it will cause disaster.
“This has led us to issue directives in the power sector for the enforcement of technical standards, specifications and regulations. One of them is that you can no longer use 33kv primary feeder line that’s supposed to carry power from transmitting station to 33/11 kv injection substations.
“They are supposed to carry power to substations, which will produce 11/415. We have issued a directive. In line with regulations and resolution of the National Council on Power there are minimum sizes of conductors for primary and secondary distribution.
“People in the 11 kv platform don’t have more than two or three hours of supply. No matter the effort, if power don’t get to the people, then all efforts are in vain. The regulation does not allow 33kva line for secondary distribution.”
The federal government had earlier said that affluent Nigerians and companies that arbitrarily arrange with the distribution companies (Discos) to be connected to high-capacity 33 KV power supply feeder lines would no longer be allowed to do so.
According to the government, such act affects the quality of supply to other Nigerians within the networks, often leaving less volume of electricity for other consumers.