How FG can get power sector right — Chris Okonkwo, President, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSEAC)

Stakeholders in the nation’s power sector have implored the Federal government to address distribution bottlenecks in Nigeria’s electricity value chain.

They said although the power sector had witnessed increased generation and massive investment in transmission sector, there was no improvement in distribution.

The stakeholders spoke against President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day speech on power supply, and urged the Federal government to decentralise the power generation chain and assist DISCOs in refurbishing their distribution transformers for more effective electricity supply to end users.

President Buhari had assured that his administration was committed to lawful interventions to ensure that operators in the business of electricity distribution lived up to expectations of Nigerians.

President Buhari said: “In the area of power generation, Nigerians from all parts of the country continue to report better power supply and less use of generators. This underscores the effectiveness of the methodical plan to deliver incremental and uninterrupted power supply to our homes, markets, offices and factories.

“The country achieved 5, 222.3 MW representing the highest peak of power generated onto the national grid and delivered to customers in December, 2017.With new facilities, repairs and rehabilitations by Government and private investors, generation capability now exceeds 7,500 MW.

“This Administration is committed to lawful interventions to ensure the operators of the distribution business live up to expectations especially in the areas of distribution capacity, service delivery, collection efficiency, and metering to eliminate contentious estimated billing.”

Speaking, Mr Chris Okonkwo, President, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSEAC), advocated the need for the Federal government to review the contract agreements with the distribution and generating companies to enhance effective service delivery in the power sector.

He explained that a review of the power chain was necessary in order to know if distribution and generating companies conform with the laws and agreements signed during the privatisation process.

According to him, even when power generation increases, most distribution companies did not have capacity to receive more energy which was part of the challenges facing the sector.

He emphasised the need for the Federal Government to examine the agreements signed with the companies and review the policy, especially now the five years period was approaching.

He added that the current regulating laws and policies in the Nigerian power sector were part of colonial legacies that needed to be reviewed for more realistic and workable model.

In his view, Emmanuel Akinwole, immediate past National Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (NIEEE), said recent investments gave transmission sector capacity to evacuate energy from Generation Companies (GENCOs).

“But there is more to be done to get the supply to Nigerians. The Distribution Companies (DISCOs) have been stagnant with no investment since 2013 when the sector was privatised.

“Most of the transformers and cables that distribute power supply to consumers have decayed, this has resulted to Nigerians sleeping in darkness. My advice is that Federal Government should assist the DISCOs with soft loan to replace those decayed equipment.

“Unless this is done, all efforts of the present administration might not be seen by consumers who are still in darkness due DISCOs decaying installations,” he said.

Bolade Soremekun, Chairman, Rubitec Africa, said that if the generating arm of the power sector was decentralised, it would reduce the huge amount of energy losses during transmission and create supply availability.

Soremekun said that Nigeria could generate above 5,700mw capacity if government redesigned the power generating system and encourage massive investment in renewable energy such as solar to fill the energy vacuum in the country.

He added a decentralised power generation means that people can generate electricity from anywhere they are.

“If the generation is decentralised it will ease pressure on the national grid. Every state and community will be able to generate power directly without depending on the energy been distributed from the national grid to states,’’ he said.

He urged government to sponsor more solar energy companies to build off-grid energy for rural dwellers.

“Renewable energy is a fundamental and growing part of the world’s ongoing energy transforming. Governments all over the world are joining the consensus and the use of renewable energy is their prime goal.

“Nigerian government should also invest more in this energy to bridge the gap in grid energy,” he said.

Alhaji Abdul-Rasak Osho, Chairman, Iponri Housing Estate, Iponri, Lagos said efforts by the present administration to improve electricity supply to Nigerians were being frustrated by power distribution companies

Osho said that the DISCOs were not expanding their network while transmission had witnessed improved capacity.

“The two sectors have to move along together because if transmission capacity is improving and DISCOs are stagnant, supply will be affected. We are aware that the government is really working to ensure power supply is regular but our constraint is ageing transformers that always explode when supply improves.

“If we have supply for a week, our old transformer will breakdown for two weeks, we know that government is trying but they should also assist DISCOs,” he said.