Power Sector: Building skilled capacity, now or never

power-transmitting-station13 November 2013, Abuja – “There is no country that can move forward without a reservoir of skilled personnel in labour.” These were the words of the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, at the certification of 243 pioneering engineering graduates of the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) last Thursday.

Government launched a Road Map on Power in 2010 to transform the power sector for efficient electricity supply. This officially marked the inception of the privatisation process that ended with the practical takeover of 15 companies under the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) a fortnight ago.

As the nation continues to churn out more electricity companies, the need for capacity building becomes critical to the sustenance of the power road map. However, unlike other sectors, the technical skills to run the power sector are specialised and need to be acquired. Prior to 1989, NEPA trained new intakes for two years before posting them to a generation or distribution company. The trend had ceased to exist, resulting in quackery of the only anchor-sector of the nation’s economy.

The Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), Dr Masa’udu Kazaure lamented the loss of labour competence to paper qualifications. At the NAPTIN graduation, he noted that skills development challenges started in the late 80’s when paper work became more valued than competence, “when assessment and examination remained academic and people looked down on blue collar jobs with a preferred choice of white collar jobs,” he added.

As the reason for this change in value continues to elude Nigerians, it is pertinent to note that skilled technologists and technicians are always needed in efficient power operations. Several efforts are being put in place to revive the drowning values of technological education. The National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) was established in March 2009, to train highly skilled manpower needed to run the power sector.

Currently, Nigeria has 11 distribution, seven generation, and one transmission company under the erstwhile Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) of which some have been privatised. Besides, the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) consisting of core generation plants is coming to fruition with an implication that government may have bitten more ‘capacity need’ than it can chew at the moment, prompting intensified efforts in heightening capacity.

– Daily Trust

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