The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola disclosed on Thursday in Lagos at a Policy Dialogue on the Power Sector organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), that a new electricity regulation that would boost meter supply for consumers nationwide would become operational next month.
The minister said that the regulation, which would govern meter service providers, would open up the market to more players in the meter supply chain, strengthen local meter suppliers and bridge the country’s metering gaps. “It would enable other businesses that are not distribution companies (DISCOs) to supply meters. The core business of the DISCOs is not meter supply, their core business is distributing power but it needs meters to do so. “Those who specialise in manufacturing, supplying and installation of meter would now go into that business subject to licence by NERC (Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission),” Fashola said.
According to him, the Power Payment Assurance Guarantee eased the debt profile of the sector, thereby increasing power production from 2,690 megawatts in 2015 to 6,911 megawatts in Dec 24, 2016. “We are trying to develop plans on how to put all of that 6,000 megawatts in the grid because currently we can only put 4,225 megawatts on the grid,” Fashola said.
The minister enumerated his three-step roadmap for power improvement as: Achieving incremental power, steady power and uninterrupted power supply in the country. Fashola noted that with the right partnerships, the private sector could unleash “unthinkable” opportunities in the economy, if the government focuses on policies, regulations and enabling private sector to perform better.
Earlier, Mrs. Nike Akande, President of LCCI, said that improved power supply was critical to survival of businesses and economic growth. “Statistics shows that the country generates about 6,700 megawatts of electricity and out of it, 2,000 is wasted because of the problem associated with phishing and distribution. There is urgent need to reduce power losses and this can be achieved with a more robust engagement and regulation of the power sector.”
In his contribution, Mr. Effiong Edet, Chairman, LCCI Power Sector Group, emphasised the need to review the privatisation of the power sector, refinance of debts and government’s 40 per cent equity in DISCOs in order to attract more investors. According to him, other issues are: Enforcement of prepaid meters, need for cost-effective tariff, need to decentralise the transmission system, and more engagement between the government and private sector.
In his remarks, Mr. Kola Adeshina, the Managing Director of Egbin Power Station, said that the fundamental problems of the power sector stemmed from its pricing. “We are talking of industrialisation but we cannot be industrialised if the cost of electricity is high,” he said. He urged the stakeholders to use the country’ vast gas endowment towards reducing the pricing of electricity, emphasising the need for a holistic review of the power reforms.