Power: Govt admits weakness in national grid system

Power transmission towers*International conference on power sector financing underway
Oscarline Onwuemenyi 
 30 January 2014, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Federal government on Thursday admitted that national transmission infrastructures are still very fragile and has therefore a plan to host an international conference on financing major projects in the power sector.
The conference which would bring together investors, local and international financial institutions next month is to be hosted by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo who disclosed this at the opening of the 6th Power Summit in Abuja noted that Nigerians no longer want to hear about mega watts but wants to have electricity in their homes and businesses.
He said major investments are needed to shore up the nation’s fragile national grid system that experienced unprecedented collapses last year.
Nebo explained that as the power sector moves closer to the declaration of Transition Electricity Market (TEM) all hands must be on deck to nurture the market.
According to him, “As we move to meet all condition precedent for the declaration of the Transition Electricity Market (TEM), we still face some challenges. Our transmission grid is still very fragile and this resulted in unprecedented system collapses in 2013.
“We witnessed many attacks on our pipelines in the eastern and western axis last year but now thankfully the incidents of pipeline vandalism are getting fewer and with the working together with the National security Adviser, civil defense corps, the army and other security operatives to make sure that these vital national infrastructures are given adequate protection.
“We need the support of the civil society organizations and the media to mount campaign against the vandalism of power infrastructure and gas pipelines.”
The minister stressed that vandalism of the pipelines “led to serious under utilization of our generation capacity and limited our capacity to give power to consumers. As you are all aware the declaration of TEM will automatically kick the contractual obligations of the market participants.
“Next month we are convening an international conference on power sector financing to be hosted by the President and Vice President. This conference is expected to bring the new owners, investors and both local and international financial institutions together to look at avenues to fund huge capital expenditure required in line with government projection and the pace the will give confidence and comfort to the borrowers at an interest rate that will not be very high.”
In his remarks, the UNIDO Representative and Regional Director, Dr. Patrick Kormawa commended the Nigerian government for successfully deregulation the power sector, noting that “access to electricity is the power house of an economy.”
Karmawa said the country “is one step closer towards economic prosperity and equitable growth.”
He explained that collectively development partners in Nigeria would have contributed up to $2billion by 2018 towards the improvement and efficiency of the power sector in the country.
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