Nnaji: NEMSA created from NERC’s poor grasp of technical regulation

29 November 2015, Lagos – A former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, thursday disclosed that the new technical enforcement agency in Nigeria’s electricity supply industry, the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), was created due to the failure of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to understand and undertake technical regulations and enforcement in the sector.


Prof. Nnaji

Nnaji, who also served under former President Goodluck Jonathan as chairman of a presidential taskforce on power, stated at a stakeholders’ forum organised by NEMSA in Abuja that the government decided to upgrade the electricity inspectorate unit of the ministry to the Electricity Management Services Limited (EMSL) and then NEMSA, having recognised NERC’s poor grasp of technical regulation and enforcement.

He explained that the failure of NERC to also integrate the inspectorate department into its activities, thus leaving it (NERC) bereft of the capacity to enforce technical standards in the sector, necessitated the creation of NEMSA.

Nnaji with other experts crafted President Jonathan’s ‘roadmap to power sector reforms’ using the contents of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005 which created NERC and other agencies in the sector.

He, however, said at the meeting that: “The idea of creating an agency was born out f of need. What we wanted to do (in the reform) was to say the inspectorate division of the ministry of power should be a department for regulating technical services. “We wanted NERC to take it but perhaps the managers of NERC didn’t understand that aspect because we have business regulation and then the technical aspect.

“Somebody has to maintain the technical aspect, and so it did not happen. So, the inspectorate division became the engine that created NEMSA. People wondered what was going on then and there was such fury during the process of creating NEMSA but it shouldn’t really be because there must be regulations for technical standards in the sector,” Nnaji stated.

NERC had opposed the creation of NEMSA but Nnaji said: “NEMSA is properly situated as a pillar of the power reforms. “The regulatory commission is intended to address the business of power as you know the intentions of the reform is to bring private investors as really the drivers of the industry and so the business must be regulated, that is what the regulatory commission is to do,” he added.

While urging for tougher sanctions against extant disregard of technical standards in the sector, Nnaji asked NEMSA promptly take up the task of enforcing all statutory standards and regulations as made by NERC.

“Unfortunately we have had some accidents recently with people dying of electrocution in various parts of the country, the only way to ensure that this is not going on is to ensure that installations are done properly and people are not exposed to danger. So, there must be an agency that does this, that is what NEMSA should do and that is its responsibility,” Nnaji noted

He also advised prospective commissioners of NERC who would be appointed by the government at the expiration of the current commissioner s to meet with the management of NEMSA to clearly define their roles in the sector, adding that their jobs do not interfere.

On this, he said: “The sanctions are quite important, if we don’t begin to enforce standards, then we cannot run an international electricity sector.

“This part is quite critical, ‘to enforce all technical standards are published by NERC,’ so you will notice there is a lot of synergy. The codes gets generated but they must be enforced.

“This sector is in a fragile stage and in transition, therefore, we cannot afford to have a turf war and these organisations were from the same act that set up all of them. As we implement the law, we find out that they are there. These things were in the act that set up the reform. They need definitions however,” he said.

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