- targets additional megawatts of electricity
Teddy Oscar, Abuja
The Federal Government on Thursday called for more private sector financing of the nation’s power sector to improve the electricity supply, as it looks to give electricity to about 30 million Nigerians, most of whom are living in the rural areas, and are yet to be connected with the national electricity grid.
Prof. Chinedu Nebo, minister of power, who made the disclosure in Abuja while declaring open the Nigerian Renewable Energy Private Equity Seminar, said that government would soon award contracts for the development of the Mambila Project, Zungeru Hydro Power Plant and 12 of the 264 hydro dams, which could add nearly 4,000 megawatts of electricity to Nigeria’s current power capacity.
Represented by Ambassador Godknows Igali, permanent secretary, Nebo, who noted that the one-day event was to sensitise investors, fund managers, policy makers and other stakeholders on the need to support the development of renewable energy, added that the training was meant to sensitise and mobilise stakeholders to initiate an equity fund through private sector participation to promote sustainable energy.
“There is still a wide gap in power supply. Sadly for us here in Nigeria, we still have about 30 million people that do not have access to power at all. This is the reason the Federal Government is focusing on Renewable Energy (RE), particularly off-grid solar and small hydros that would not need to depend on the national grid.
“Let me also mention that as part of government’s commitment towards development of renewable energy, we have two major legacy projects that we are going ahead to develop: we have the Zungeru Hydro Power Plant (700 megawatts), which construction has already started; the Mambila Legacy Project of 3,050 megawatts… we have completed all the engineering designing, environmental impact studies have been done, and we are now at closure of the financing arrangement through the various financing options and equity, and government putting in some part of its needed counterpart funding. And very soon, we are going to award the Mambila Project, and Mr. President will, sooner than later, flag off the Mambila Project 3,050 megawatts.
“Already, the Kashimbila Hydro Project, which is 40 megawatts, Taraba-Benue Agriculture Belt, which is about 85 percent completed, and we are at the process of commencing the transmission system.
“We have about 264 hydro dams in Nigeria that for many years not much was done harness their hydro potentials. But government has again undertaken the study of these dams, and in this first quarter of the year, contracts would be awarded for the electro mechanical components, installation of the hydro turbines in 12 of them so that we can generate power from most of them. From about 500 kilowatts, some to as much as 39, 40 megawatts in different parts of the country,” he said.
He also added that “we are right now at the stage of trying to put the proper governance structure in place, and working together with NERC, trying to ensure that there is proper interim tariff for renewable energy.”
In her message, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, finance minister and coordinating minister of the economy, who was represented by Hajia Lare Shuaibu, while noting that there is a need to supplement mainstream power generation through the harnessing of renewable energy, said that the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Company Plc has received proposals and inquiries on developing the vast renewable energy in Nigeria.
“Giving the national resources of sunlight, wind, biomass among others, we need to start thinking of how they can be harnessed for the power sector,” she added.
In his goodwill message, Hon. Patrick Ikhariale, chairman, House of Representatives’ committee on power, observed that Nigeria needs to seriously look at the legal impediments of developing renewable energy, which the National Assembly would continuously give its assurance.
“As legislators, we will always give our support and assurances to the development of electricity in the country. But it is no longer going to be business as usual. I want to make it very clear that government alone cannot shoulder the responsibility of energy generation, transmission and distribution. Government’s responsibility is to provide the enabling environment. It is important to realise that to fix the power problem of Nigeria is to solve 60 to 70 percent of Nigeria’s problem because there will be employment generation, business, increased GDP and an improved FDI, with the availability of electricity in the country,” he added.
Also speaking at the event, Senator Philip Aduda, chairman, Senate committee on power, who noted that Nigeria still experience acute inadequate power supply despite the vast renewable energy sources, maintained that the Renewable Energy section is a new frontier that needs to be developed to boost supply.
“This is a new frontier in the sector, so it needs political will and financiers for this. We must set up codes and standards to create solar power, solar PV among others and this is up to NERC to hasten it,” he added.
In her remarks, Babara James, CEO, Henshaw Capital Partners, said that business financing through banking lending and capital market lending at a percentage of the GDP is still relatively low, about 20 percent unlike in other advanced countries like Brazil.
James noted that the seminar is to prepare the grounds for an intended development of a private equity and venture capital where resources would be pooled to develop a sustainable renewable energy for the country.
Stating that private equity is an ecosystem that involves investors, fund managers, entrepreneurs, and the policy makers, James added that: “we work with these different groups in the ecosystem to raise their awareness, engage them in pre-investment and post investment activities in the sector.”