Sambo expects power sector reforms to have greater impact


*Jonathan approves Super Grid power infrastructure
*Power generation hits 4,242.7MW

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

19 September, 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA– Nigeria’s Vice President, Namadi Sambo has predicted that the on-going power sector reforms would ensure greater impact on the nation’s social and economic environment than did the reform in the telecoms industry.

Sambo, who was speaking during the Agenda for Power Sector Reform Workshop, organized by the Ministry of Power and the Bureau of Public Enterprises, in Abuja, noted that government has also accepted the recommendation for a 50 per cent increase in the salary structure of Power Holding Company of Nigeria staff, despite the enormous economic challenges of the moment, as a further demonstration of the current administration’s interest in the welfare of electricity workers.

He noted that, “The power sector reform will change Nigeria’s socio-economic landscape, far more than we have seen in telecommunications following the sector’s liberalization.

“Prior to telecoms deregulation, there used to be a mere 400,000 telephones lines in Nigeria, a country of 120million people then. The telephone was considered the exclusive preserve of the well-to-do. 250,000 of the lines belonged to government bodies and big businesses. Within a decade of liberalization, however, the number of phone subscribers has risen to 80million, making Nigeria one of the fastest growing telecoms markets in the world.

“The power sector reform will not only provide the Nigerian people with uninterrupted and quality electricity but also attract Foreign Direct Investment, create employment and business opportunities, enhance the living standards of electricity workers like those of their counterparts in the telecoms sector, enable power sector employees to work with state of the art technology and to regularly undergo domestic and international courses.”

The Vice President, who appealed to labour unions within the sector to embrace the reform, stressed that the power sector reform is a win- win deal for all.

“It is central to President Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda. Trade unions in the power sector and, indeed, all Nigerians are enjoined to embrace it wholeheartedly. History beckons us all,” Sambo said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has disclosed that the country has attained the highest quantum of power ever generated in its history.

The feat which was achieved last Friday, September 17, 2011, saw about 3,982.7 megawatts now produced in the country go into the national grid, with 260MW maintained as spinning reserve, which is used for system stability.

The Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, who made the disclosure during the workshop with the theme, Towards Power Stability in Nigeria, noted that the administration has achieved measurable improvement in all facets of the power industry and is committed to getting better.

He noted that, “There are credible reports of a noticeable improvement in power supply in many parts of the country. We are expecting an additional 10MW from the Delta Power Station in Ughelli, Delta State, this month, plus 120MW later in the year thus bringing the quantum of power from this plant to 470MW.

“From its sister power station in Sapele, we are expecting an additional 100MW this year raising supply from this station to 252MW.”

Nnaji added that the administration has a programme to recover as soon as possible lost capacities at Egbin, Kainji and other hydro and thermal stations across the country.

He pointed out that, “The 760MW Kainji hydro station, built in 1968, has never been overhauled. But some of its units which are out of use are now undergoing rehabilitation. Coupled with the scheduled commissioning of some plants being built under the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), we are optimistic of achieving the target of 5,000MW this year and hit 6,000MW in 2012.”

He added that, “Nigeria used to experience an average of four system collapses every month, that is, almost 50 system collapses annually. Much as we have reduced the failures in the last one year, our goal is to reduce them to zero.”

The Minister stated that government was not pre-ocuppied with just power generation, but also committed to the development of the entire value-chain in the power sector, adding that government was carrying out repairs in the transmission and distribution networks, and in some cases upgrading and modernizing them.

He further disclosed that President Jonathan has approved the implementation of the Super Grid transmission infrastructure, which has the capacity to wheel the nation’s power when the 765KV Super Grid is installed.

“This will make Nigeria have a cutting edge technology which even many advanced countries have not yet acquired.
As a government, we are determined to be proactive. Yet, we have resisted the temptation to roll out the drums because Nigeria is still far from where the Jonathan administration would like it to be, in terms of electricity,” Nnaji added.

Nnaji, meanwhile, has justified the recent redeployment of some Chief Executive Officers of PHCN Distribution Companies, noting that power supply had improved in the regions merely 72 hours after the action to redeploy the CEO of Olorunsogo Power Plant 1 to the PHCN headquarters.

According to the Minister, “The power sector reform represents a paradigm shift. It has set Nigeria in a fresh and welcome direction. We have no other country. Therefore, it is incumbent on us to build a prosperous nation, a nation which our children will be proud to call theirs. The journey for a better country has begun in earnest.”

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