The Federal Ministry of Power and stakeholders in the energy industry have highlighted the deployment of technology and investment as a solution to Nigeria’s electricity challenges, OPEOLUWANI AKINTAYO writes

Investment, technology and collaboration among others formed the discourse at the just-concluded 10th Nigeria Energy conference, as the Ministry of Power and stakeholders explained that advancing the energy sector and fostering a sustainable energy future requires the commitment of all and sundry.

The event themed, “Unlocking new value with reforms, investments and technology” which was held under the patronage of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Power, witnessed the presence of distinguished guests and leaders in the Energy sector.

Among the notable dignitaries were: Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, Commissioner- Legal, Licensing & Compliance, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dafe Akpeneye, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Transmission Company of Nigeria, Engr. Sule Abdulaziz,  and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ikeja Electric, Folake Soetan.

Other stakeholders present at the event are the Managing Director, Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency, Engr. Aliu Tahir, Managing Director and CEO, Rural Electrification Agency, Ahmad Salihijo, and many others.

While delivering the opening speech at the event, Adelabu harped on the need for critical issues such as private and public collaborations and investments as major requirements to making electricity more accessible and affordable.

 “We are gathered here to discuss one of the most critical issues of our time, which is energy. This conference marks a significant milestone in our collective efforts to shape the energy landscape in Nigeria. This, of course, will accompany the opportunity to relate and interact with industry players and power sector investors. It will not only assist in the pace of my fact-gathering and understanding of the sector itself, but it is also a good platform for direct feedback from industry operators,” he said.

The power minister expressed confidence that the narrative in the power sector, which is confronted with several challenges, will change soon. He noted that the challenges in the sector include among others, energy security and sustainability. “The Ministry of Power is focused on the balanced energy development that drives socio-economic transformation, thus satisfying the future utility and sustainable development nexus of energy security, sustainability, and affordability. We must therefore never underestimate the power of strategic collaborations in this bilateral sector,” he said.

The minister explained that without energy there was no power, adding that sustainable energy fuels the industries, powers homes, drives economic growth, and is the cornerstone upon which the progress and prosperity of nations are built.

He noted that Nigeria, blessed with abundant natural resources, a rapidly growing population, and an expanding economy, stands at a pivotal moment in its energy journey because the demand for accessible, reliable and sustainable energy has never been greater than what it is currently.

“The national energy mix comprises 80 per cent and 20 per cent of transitional coal and renewable hydro energy respectively, guided by national best practices such as IHA sustainability assessment control”, he said.

Despite this; he said the country’s greatest challenges were the grid reliability and universal access to power for the unserved and the underserved.

Consequently, Adelabu said it would require collective efforts to solve these challenges to realise the dreams of socio-economic development in the country, saying that the ministry of power was focused on the balanced energy development that drives socio-economic transformation, thus satisfying the future utility and sustainable development nexus of energy security, sustainability and affordability.

As part of the plan to achieve sustainable energy in the country, Adelabu said that the Federal Government would invest $20bn in power plants and grid stability, adding that this would grow the power sector in 2023 and beyond.

“The Nigerian government is actively advancing the power sector through various measures. With a $20 billion investment plan, new power plants and transmission lines are set to be established to boost power generation and grid stability,” he said.

The minister also disclosed that the FG was also ramping up preparations to attain at least 20,000 megawatts of electricity generation in the next three years.

“Energy is the lifeblood of any economy, and no meaningful industrial growth can be achieved without power.

“That is why my tenure would focus on growing power generation to 20, 000 megawatts in the next three years. But the target would be impossible without investments from all investors across the sector’s value chain. From the utilities to transmission and generation companies; everyone must be ready to invest to achieve the target,” he said.

The minister explained that the mid and long-term power generation targets of 30,000MW by 2030, and 60,000MW by 2060 were achievable, adding that enough investments must be made to not only generate power but also on how to transmit the same to end users.

He explained that the huge metering gap must also be closed to ensure that power generated would be transmitted to electricity consumers who would in turn pay for the services.

“It is not enough just to generate power, but the most important thing is also to be able to get at most 90 per cent of the power to consumers that would pay for it”, he explained.

According to the minister, the Power Ministry had been able to identify an 8 million metering gap, advising investors to prepare for long-term investments in the sector.

“The Nigerian electricity market is huge. So, investors must be ready for mid and long-term investments before expecting to make profits. The industry needs liquidity and this can be attained through equity and debt capital,” he said.

While Nigeria needs at least 30, 000 megawatts to attain energy sufficiency, the country currently generates about 4000megawatts of electricity.

Despite huge investments by FG, the national grid has since this year experienced up to three major collapses, with generation dropping to as low as 42MW and 35MW on two of the incidents. The Transmission Company of Nigeria blamed the incidents on fire outbreaks, infrastructure limitations, challenges in gas supply, and constraints within the transmission system.

The minister explained that Nigeria had a long-term energy expansion plan of 60,000 MW by 2016, and a medium-term target of 30,000 MW by 2015.

He alluded to the case of his journey to South Korea for a conference, where he found out that the Asian country with a population of about 50 million; generates over 130, 000MW of electricity.

“This was a country about less than 50 years ago. They were a net recipient of foreign aid. Even Nigeria was sending food aid to South Korea during the war before the ceasefire of 1953. They were generating less than 4,000 MW of power. But today, a country that has a little less than 50 million population; now generates well over 130,000 MW of power. It’s quite amazing.

“They are not just generating, they are transmitting, distributing and getting to the doorstep of the end users. So, who says 60,000 MW is not achievable in less than 40 years in Nigeria? It is. The collective effort of all of us is required for this. But let me mention the fact that it is not just enough to generate power. As I’ve seen, we are actually in a very good position given the kind of expression of interest to invest in Nigeria by generating companies.

“We have generating companies to achieve 30,000 MW by 2030 and 60,000 MW by 2060. But how do we get this to end users? Because it is the end users that they call the last man that pays for all the segments and critters in the value chain. If we cannot transmit as much as 80-85% of the generated power to distributing computing companies and then getting it to the customers, then we are wasting investments,” he said.

On his part, Ahmad said growth in Nigeria’s power sector should be linked to the global drive towards achieving energy transition due to the adverse effects of climate change brought about by global warming.

According to him, while the country transitioned from commercial energy fields, technology, and systems; there were still, unfortunately; at least 80 million Nigerians without any form of energy access.

This he said implies that the energy transition being promoted and implemented must be fair, just, and inclusive for all.

“The REA is working on ensuring that there is a clear education plan that guides us towards energy access to over 18 million Nigerians”, he concluded.

The Exhibition Director, Nigeria Energy, Ade Yesufu harped on the need to continue to support the government and the industry by not just addressing the challenges but providing reliable long-term solutions for the power sector in West Africa and helping achieve its supply goals sustainably.

“Today, Nigerians stand united sharing the single vision to create a sustainable and modern energy future that serves all our citizens. This vision is particularly important in the light of recent developments in our government,” he noted.

Earlier, Adelabu harped on investing in cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions that can transform the way electricity is generated, transmitted, distributed, and consumed, adding that other new opportunities, and means before subsoil removal, included bridging the transport system with electric vehicles and hydrogen technology.

On his part, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, of Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency, Aliyu Tahir disclosed that for self-reliable and sustainable electricity supply and use, it was paramount that hazards that can lead to injuries and fatalities were effectively mitigated.

According to him; mitigating electricity hazards to make it safe, reliable, and sustainable led to the development of the technical standards and regulations and effective enforcement of these regulations. “We promote active working relationships with relevant agencies and other stakeholders to achieve greater efficiency in service delivery. We continue to provide our services to all stakeholders in the country and have come to terms that the function of enforcement of LPC standards and regulations requires greater collaboration with relevant stakeholders, especially the Standard Organization of Nigeria, Nigeria LPC Regulatory Commission, security agencies to effectively and seamlessly tackle challenges of delivering safe, reliable and sustainable Legal Practice Councils,” he said.

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