By Energy Worth
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has called on state governors to support access to electricity through improved power infrastructure in their respective states, saying “It is no longer news that the Distribution Companies (DisCos) are having difficulty funding Distribution Infrastructures”. “Therefore, as collective 40% shareholders, we cannot sit back without finding a solution”. The point I wish to make clear, is that all State Governments have a role to play to support the Private Sector”.
Fashola made the call at the opening ceremony of the 4th National Council on Power (NACOP) with the theme: “Increasing Access to Electricity through Improved Power Infrastructure’ holding at the Government House, Benin City, Edo State.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary (Power), Louis Edozien, urged each State Government to work with the Discos that serves their State. This is required to identify the Distribution equipment needed to deliver Power, cost implication, make the investment and agree on a recovery strategy. He insisted that electricity consumers want better and improved service delivery. He stressed that “there are many other things you can do to support access to Power and improve infrastructure, including but not limited to ensuring that your State and Local Governments’ Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) pay their debts and also pay for energy used”.
The Minister further stated that the Metter Asset Provider (MAP) Regulations issued by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) opens a window of participation to entrepreneurs to enter the business of meter production, supply and installation. He pointed out that apart from the job creation component of such gesture, it is also a window of intervention for State Government to support small and Medium Scale Enterprises to operate in the Power Sector. Fashola further disclosed that increased supply of meters, a major infrastructure in the power value chain will bridge distrust and help manage the conflict that exists between consumers and the Discos about estimated billings.
On his part, the Governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki said currently, the State has an installed generation capacity of 900MW, made of 450MW from the National Integrated Power Plant (NIPP) and another 450MW from Azura-Edo Independent Power Project. In the area of distribution, the Governor said the State’s experience with the Benin Electricity Distribution (BEDC) is most uninspiring. “To think that we can keep our developmental drive alive without the support of a dependable, affordable and sustainable power supply is still a difficult hurdle to surmount” “The cost we are paying has also become a budding too heavy to bear. As a Government, we are have become highly discomforted by the increasing suffering of electricity consumers in the State. Daily, we are being inundated with complains and protests against BEDC which we struggle to calm and keep under control” Obaseki said.
Furthermore, the Governor said “one often wonders about where lies the sense of responsibility to customers and why State Government were not given the mandate to adequately sanction the DisCos in the face of such very noticeable and perpetually reoccurring managerial lapses”
He therefore, called on BEDC to step up its performance in the area of infrastructural provision and timely repairs of faulty facilities as well as to urgently tackle the re-occurring issues of Estimated Billing by adequately providing pre – paid meters.