Electricity power generation private sector group has countered the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, saying the problems bugging the sector are so overwhelming that they may end up derailing the sector.

Elated by the recent successful implementation of the new electricity tariff regime, the Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Prof James Momoh, said the sector would not only attract more investments to the power sector, it will enable existing investors to recoup their investment.

But the executive secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), Dr Joy Ogaji, has stated that the ills afflicting the nation’s power sector are still very much overwhelming, and may derail it from adding requisite value addition to the economy.

In a presentation on ‘Electric Power Infrastructure Perspective of Diversification’ at a recent summit in Lagos, she painted a gloomy state of the electricity sector.

She said currently, the national electricity demand is over 28,700MW with pipeline capacity at over 21,000MW and installed generation capacity at over 13,000MW.

She regretted that only about 8,000MW is available, out of which about 5,500MW could be transmitted and only 4,500MW being distributed.

She spoke on the theme of the summit in relation to the electricity industry, saying: “energy plays a pivotal role in economic diversification as its scale of use determines the socio-economic development of any nation capable of solving Nigeria’s problem.”

On the way out, she Nigeria needs to diversify its economy and fix the power sector, and target over 51% of West Africa’s over 400 million population where its products- services, agriculture, and industries can dominate the sub-region and bring in foreign exchange.

According to Ogaji, lack of access to energy contributed to inequality, poor health, education and poverty in all sectors of the country.

She emphasised that in order to achieve the anticipated economic growth: “Nigeria needs to unlock its potential by taking specific steps to build capabilities and enable growth across multiple sectors.

According to her, to explore power as a diversification option, “Nigeria’s power sector must be seen to be a reflection of the economic growth strategy of the country. Power is a strategic infrastructure and represents the most important requirement for moving the economy forward.”

In the lead paper on the theme of the summit, ‘New Reality: Consolidating Economic Diversification’, Dr Ayodele Shittu, Department of Economics, University of Lagos, said from the perspective of a developing economy, infrastructure should include both physical and human.

The don challenged the Federal Government to rethink its investments in infrastructure and technological progress to include both physical and human development.

“By implication, it is expedient to invest more in public education and health in the same manner that we are investing heavily in the construction of roads and rail across the country,” he said.

He commended the Federal Government on the role of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), in its quest for a diversified national economy, saying it had done very well to put the country back on a growth trajectory of 7% by the Year-ended 2020, though it may not be achievable due to the emerging health crisis.

“Castigating the ERGP on the basis of the inability to achieve the 7% growth target will be unfair because notable successes have also been recorded, but there are still more macro-economic goals to be achieved,” he said.

According to him, there is an urgent need for the country to reduce our dependence on external sources of financing. This implies that government should consider the need to develop home-grown industries and skill centers.

By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja

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