Stakeholders Propose Solutions to Power Sector Challenges

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By Peter Uzoho

Some stakeholders and experts in the Nigerian power industry recently brainstormed on the challenges facing the sector and proffered some innovative solutions.

Among the solutions made at the 11th PwC annual Power and Utilities Roundtable, with the theme: “Power to the People, Success to All”, which was held virtually, was the need for more innovation in the transmission and distribution chains of the sector.

Speakers at the session proposed the introduction of micro-power distribution to bring in new players and more investment into power distribution.

They observed that the cost of grid supply in the country will always be cheaper than the cost of self-generation, noting that consumers were already paying more for generating power on their own than the power from the transmission grid.

They said bridging the metering gap was critical to building trust in the sector and has the potential for job creation.

The participants also stressed the need to rethink the nation’s power transmission model and to also consider getting the private sector to finance super grid and regional grids.

According to them, the entire value chain of the sector needs to be incentivised to attract the required private sector investment, even as there was the need for more predictability and transparency on the part of all stakeholders.

In his keynote presentation, a former Minister of Power and Chief Executive Officer of Geometric Power Limited, Prof. Bart Nnaji, said due to the challenges with power transmission, there was need for the introduction of dual grids.

Nnaji, specifically proposed the adoption of both a ‘Super Grid’ which he described as a looping 765kVA network, and an ‘Electric Regional Grid’, to support the current national grid.

He explained that the Electric Regional Grid is not a geopolitical grid, but an electric grid, saying, Lagos, for example, could function as a regional grid even as two or three states can be configured to function as regional grids too.

He said the idea was to be able to have semi-autonomy in the process and still be connected to the national grid.

The former minister added that both the Super Grid and the Electric Regional Grid should be driven by private sector investments, which will help to reduce the system collapse often experienced by the national grid.

In his contribution, the Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mr. Alex Okoh, noted that it was important to focus on the ongoing measures by the federal government to mitigate some of the shortcomings of the privatisation reforms.

These, according to him, include the Presidential Power Initiative and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention to address the capital expenditure (CAPEX) challenges in the industry.

Earlier in his opening remarks, Pedro Energy, Utilities and Resources Leader at PwC, Mr. Pedro Omontuemhen, said the event was conceived to provide a platform for stakeholder engagement geared towards moving Nigeria’s power sector forward.

“Over the years, we have focused on several pertinent issues in the industry, so we believe the Roundtable is achieving its purpose. But there is still some more work to be done in the sector.
“The vision for the sector is stable supply of electricity and all stakeholders in Nigeria’s electricity value chain must collaborate in order to achieve it.

“A key ingredient for effective collaboration is the harmonisation of the interests of the different stakeholders. Hence our theme for the event,” he said.

Omontuemhen expressed optimism that the insights and contributions shared would assist in identifying common ground which will serve as a catalyst for a broad and sustainable solution to challenges in Nigeria’s power sector.

However, at the end of the session, the stakeholders said that the privatisation of Nigeria’s power sector, though ambitions, had achieved some of its key objectives, as evidenced by the significant increase in private sector participation, and the various initiatives that are gradually transforming and repositioning the sector.