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Power summit: In search for private-led sector rescue?

This is coming nine months after five electricity Generation companies (Gencos) and 10 Distribution companies (Discos) were privatised and handed over to new owners last…

This is coming nine months after five electricity Generation companies (Gencos) and 10 Distribution companies (Discos) were privatised and handed over to new owners last November amidst voracious complaints from electricity consumers and even public officials on a downward growth of the ‘reformed’ sector.
The first, which was the 6th Power Summit combined with the 1st Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Forum on Power, held in January 2014 while the second was the Power and Infrastructural Investment Conference held in April at the State House banquet hall in Abuja.
These, analysts have concluded to be a quarterly trend that could have solved the many power challenges if the deliberations and resolutions were effectively pursued.
Reeling out the achievements so far from the two summits on power, senior officials in the Federal Ministry of Power had said both policy and financial investment progress are being made in the new electricity market.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr. Godknows Igali, recalled that the 6th Power Summit witnessed the inauguration of a civil society forum on power by the minister, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, to pool ideas from electricity consumers, sector officials, civil society organs, international development partners and the new owners of the Gencos and Discos.
Igali who highlighted the summit’s objectives then, in late January 2014, said it was focused on instituting problem-solving mechanisms while disclosing the plan for this eventual summit, the NACOP.
“President Goodluck Jonathan has approved a National Council on Power (NACOP) comprising federal, state and private sector stakeholders to partner in formulating policies for sustainable electricity service delivery,” he had said.
However, at the 1st Power and Infrastructural Investment Conference in April, official records showed that the sector would require over $8 billion of investment in Gencos, Discos and the Transmission segment of the sector. It was further disclosed that significant investment nods were recorded from the more than 20 countries that visited the summit.
But with these achievements, independent sources that spoke with Daily Trust on the grounds of anonymity said Nigerians are still worried over the downward trend of the power sector amidst such reform efforts.
A source who was privy to the privatisation transactions in 2013 and a power engineering consultant decried the failed directive of the president compelling the new investors to ensure a significant service improvement from June 2014.
He said: “Supply was only better between January and February when the national grid steeply rose to about 4,200 megawatts (mw) but that was abruptly cut short from March by what government had described as spate of vandalisms and technical challenges.
“That overpowered government as it shrank into promises that do not yield results. Nigerians expected a magic wand supply following the President’s directive in June, but many gas-fired power stations, including Olorunsogo plants, which generate over 400mw were shut down as Otorogu gas infrastructures in Delta State were being maintained throughout that month.
“What we had till July was a less than 3,500mw capacity that forced the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to reduce its allocation to the 11 Discos nationwide including the yet-to-be privatised Kaduna Disco. At a point, Abuja Disco was operating on barely 180mw instead of its 450 to 500mw,” he explained.
A statement from the System Operator in TCN early in July also announced a similar shut down of plants over another phase of repairs and just recently, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources had said Nigerians should expect protracted blackouts as many of its gas supply infrastructures are being maintained till the fourth quarter of this year.
More so, Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi, on a recent courtesy visit to a media house called for expedited action to resolve the issue of inadequate gas supply to power. “Generation capacity is at 3,400 to 3,500mw today which has not improved but if we have gas, we could go up to 6,000mw,” Amadi noted.
This trend has kept tongues wagging as to the tripartite challenges inherent in the privatised power sector: inadequate gas supply, poor investments from investors and rising crazy billing of consumers.
The Executive Director of the Market Operator, Mrs Ngozi Osumor, which oversees payments for energy generation and consumption had recently lamented the non-performance of the new companies especially in their inability to invest significantly in the system.
Osumor who was the Managing Director of the defunct Jos PHCN now Jos Disco, at a recent investors’ workshop said it was unfortunate that the defunct order of PHCN service was better than this privatised sector, urging them to expedite action so as not to lose the confidence of electricity consumers.
As at last Friday, the national grid is yet to improve significantly from it’s less than 3,500mw. Although the peak generation was 3,565mw, the Actual Energy Generation was 3,405megawatts hour/hour (mwh/h) while the Energy Sent Out for nationwide consumption was barely 3,328mwh/h, power generation statistics from the transmission National Control Centre (NCC) in Osogbo, Osun State revealed.
But with hope rising, the leadership in the ministry said there is possibility to meet the 6,000mw target by December through deliberate actions from government and investors to improve the service. Such action plans, the Permanent Secretary, Igali, in a record obtained by Daily Trust at the weekend, said would be the thrust of the ongoing maiden NACOP summit which began yesterday, Monday in Abuja.
The summit with theme, ‘Achieving Sustainability of Power Supply in the New Electricity Market’, according to officials in the ministry is meant to chart a new course for the power sector following many agitations from Nigerians on the downward trend of the privatised power sector.  
The 5-day summit they said will feature in-depth deliberations of memoranda from stakeholders covering Gencos, Discos, Transmission section, Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency and Rural Electrification. Participants include permanent secretaries of the federal ministry, Ministries of Power/Energy of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, senior officials and other relevant stakeholders; both ministers of Power and Commissioners of Power/Energy drawn from across the federation.
NACOP itself would be inaugurated by the Vice President, Arc. Mohammed Namadi Sambo, who, sources say, will also be inaugurating the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP), National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) and Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) action agendas during the summit.
Minister of Power, Prof. Nebo, who invited an Indian delegation to the NACOP summit a fortnight ago, tasked them on contributing to the goal of reaching 6,000mw by December and 10,000mw by next year, noting that it will transform to significant power supply improvement in the country with minimum of 18 hours supply target.
Electricity consumers and the Nigerian nation are expecting nothing less of this promise from a sector where huge investments in time, materials and funds have been so committed.

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