FG Targets 75% Access To Electricity By 2020



Teddy Oscar, Abuja

The Federal Government on Thursday disclosed that it would rely on the huge investment potentials in the nation’s power sector to achieve 75 percent access to power in the country by the year 2020.

Speaking at a power forum breakfast in Abuja, the minister of power, Prof. Chinedu Ositadimma Nebo, who noted that access to electricity in Nigeria is still below expectation, said that about 30 million Nigerian households are still without electricity.

To achieve the target, Nebo said that government would ensure that 1.5 million Nigerian households are connected to electricity annually.

He noted that the demand for energy in Nigeria is so huge that the country needs to quadruple its current generation of 4000 megawatts to service its teeming population of 170 million people.

“In Nigeria, access to electricity is way below 50 percent with about 30 million Nigerians households without electricity. I think is important to mention all these, so that we begin to see why Nigeria is a veritable location for investment in the electricity sector.

“In order to meet the immediate electricity demand in Nigeria, we need to quadruple what we currently generate, and make sure it continues to grow. When you compare South Africa, a country that is about one quarter the population of Nigeria, and is generating 40,000mw, the implications are that for us to be at par with South Africa, Nigeria needs to generate 40 times more power than we are generating today. That means we need 160,000mw just to be at par with South Africa.

“Our target is to achieve up to 75 percent access to electricity by the year 2020, and by connecting an average of 1.5 million households every year, we will do that. The ongoing reform of the power sector will improve access through grid extension and non grid solutions, using renewable energy, which includes solar, wind, bio-mass, small and medium hydros are already on going. Seventy percent are thermal, gas-fire turbines and then the rest hydro. We will need the coal, we need renewable energy, we need more hydros, we need solar, wind, we need bio-mass, and all these are very critical,” Nebo said.

He further revealed that the government was working out plans to provide electricity through solar energy to 111 communities that are not connected to the national electricity grid.

While lamenting Nigeria’s over dependent on gas for electricity supply, Nebo reiterated the need to encourage a robust energy mix, in form of development of coal to power, solar, wind, bio-mass among other sources.

He observed that Nigeria cannot continue to generate most of its electricity by gas, even though she is sitting on the eighth largest gas deposits in the world.

“The economics does not favour gas dependent,” he added.

Apart from the economic implications, Nebo said that the acts of vandalism of the gas pipelines have made dependent on gas not very reliable.

He stated that the privatisation process aims at solving several years of neglect because there was not concomitant development of infrastructure in electricity sector for many decades as the population grew.

He noted that, if the power situation is fixed, the gross domestic product (GDP) rate may grow to a double digit from 6.5 percent yearly average, and issues of unemployment and poor industrialisation would be addressed.

The permanent secretary, Ambassador Godknows Igali, said there was every reason to celebrate the privatisation of the sector.

“We have every reason to celebrate the success of the process. We had no other way to go because this is a sector that was bedevilled by inefficiencies and Nigerians had less power supply. But with the privatisation, government has been subsidised.

“As permanent secretary in the Federal Ministry of Power, I came in and we were paying about N10 billion as salaries to thousands of workers, yet Nigerians didn’t have power. The good news is that today everything we set out to achieve has been achieved,” Igali said.

He assured that current power supply situation in the country would improve in the next few months through an incremental process.

Igali was responding to questions from moderator of the discussion Panel, Mr. Atedo Peterside said: “We are expecting improvement in the next few months. It will be incremental as it will be improving on daily basis.”

He stated that the existing poor state of the networks before private investors took over affected power improvement, adding that the investors’ Capital Expenditure Plan (CAPEX) is impressive.

Igali said some of them, including Transcorp Ughelli Generation Company (Genco) is expanding to 1000mw capacity shortly, while Kainji hydro power is ensuring that at least seven of its eight turbines are fully functional soon.



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