26 August 2014, Lagos – The Managing Director, Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Mr. Ramesh Naravanan has stated that for Nigeria to solve its energy debacle, it must make an annual investment of $4 billion in the next ten years.
Naravanan explained that the investment which will cover generation, distribution and transmission would gulp about 70 per cent investment into plant machinery while the other 30 per cent will be into construction.
He stated this during the business luncheon for chief executives organised by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) Apapa Branch in Lagos.
According to him, the investment will open up opportunities in the nation’s service and manufacturing sector and therefore called on the federal government to organise capacity building programmes to train and equip Nigerians with the necessary skills to reap the benefits of the investment.
He pointed out that Nigeria with a population of about 170 million people is still battling with its energy needs saying that, only 5 per cent of the population have access to electricity available in the 11 discos in the country.
He said the investment would also generate new direct and indirect job opportunities in the country, calling for private and public academia to rise up to the challenge to train more engineers to fill up the job opportunities the investment will offer.
Also speaking at the event, the Managing Director, Egbin Power Plc, Engineer. Mike Uzoigwe said the most worrisome issue of power development in the country is the nation’s inability to transmit generated power adding that, some of the new National Independent Power Plants (NIPP) projects have been completed but no evacuation capabilities to get power to the grid.
He stated that there are lots of bottlenecks that inhibit efficient evacuation of power which includes, overloaded distribution feeders; inadequate power transformer capabilities; undersized conductors; single circuit transmission lines, radial network type instead of the closed grid systems and the likes.
He also said power stations have a life span of about 30 years maintaining that, it may become un-economical to run such plants and advised that, the best way to go is to de-commission such plants.
“It does not mean that once a plant is operated for 30 years, it should be discarded. After 30 years of operating a plant, technology and phenomenon of control systems may have changed, parts worn out no matter how well they have been maintained, production of some spare parts may have seized,” he said.
He decried lack of meters in the system noting that, there is no way to do commercial distribution of electricity without metering.
He said as a result of this, people connive with staff or thugs to bypass electricity meters thereby making power to be consumed free and the supplied energy is unaccounted for.
He stated that with the current situation, there will be factors that will mitigate against well strucyured metering even when the meters are available stressing that there has to be a lot of clean-up before meters could be installed properly.
Uzoigwe said the nation’s hope for an end to darkness will be unrealized except Nigeria embraces the full prescription of the National Electric Power Policy (NEPP) issued by the National Council on privatiisation in October 2000, the desirable efforts in unbundling and privatisation may become counter-productive.
“Privatisation and private businesses do not hold magic wands. They carry out method methodological applications to problems and cash flows and return.
The Chairman, MAN Apapa Branch, Mr. Tunde Odunayo said manufacturers are suffering due to the current abysmal power situation in the country is abysmal noting that, manufacturers still supply their own power to run their businesses.
He said even more challenging is the fact that most Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) cannot afford to buy huge generating sets and will be left with no option to wait for power from the national grid.
He said a lot still has to be done as a result of the privatisation exercise pointing out that, there are still many NEEP projects that has to be privatised but stressed that the biggest challenge is that there is no gas to power most of the power stations in the country.
“The transmission lines under the federal government’s investment portfolio requires so much to invest. Even today at 4000 Mega Watts, the transmission lines are not able to absorb the capacity which means it needs to be overhauled and expanded. Nigerians should not expect adequate power soon because there is a lot of investment needed to transform the sector not only by the federal government but also the private sectors,” he said.
– This Day