News Review for Thursday 24th of June 2022
NERC and Taming the Electricity Oligarchs
THE way things are now in the country regarding electricity, one may rightly begin to ask why those who claimed to know unbundled and privatised NEPA. Yes, they may have been driven by good intentions but mind you that public service in Nigeria usually goes with two intentions – the overt intention that is stridently voiced out (public interest) and the covert or subterranean intention which is predictably self-serving but unfortunately drives most actions of public servants and politicians.
With the benefit of hindsight, it is bemusing how on earth we broke up a public monopoly and replaced it with exploitative oligarchs (new owners of energy and electricity firms that literally shared the spoils of NEPA) who are the new wheelers and dealers in the electricity industry in the country.
The only significant and consistent improvement in electricity over the years seems to be the regular and insatiable upward adjustment in tariffs while customer satisfaction and meeting felt needs in the economy are jettisoned. The outcome – reinforced heartless exploitation of ordinary citizens who willy-nilly must use electricity.
Fed Govt Promises to Restore Power to Borno
The Minister of Power Abubakar Aliyu has stated that power supply will soon be restored to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
He made this known when the Vice-Chancellor of the Borno State University Prof. Umar Kyari Sandabe led his management team on a visit to the minister in Abuja yesterday.
Chronicling the operations of the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), Abubakar said efforts are being made to restore power to Maiduguri.
This is expected to be concluded in about six weeks’ time. He said Independent Power Plants projects are being handled through the policy on off-grid and mini-grid. He said further that the mini-grid will adequately cater for all renewables.
The minister further directed the Rural Electrification Agency to explore ways in which state universities will benefit from the Energizsing Education Policy of the Federal Government.
The ministry’s Assistant Director Odutayo Oluseyi made this known in a press statement yesterday.
Solving Nigeria’s Energy Crisis with Renewable Energy
Fuel queues recently resurfaced in many filling stations across the country following the shutdown of operations by some independent petroleum marketers who argue that they are no longer making reasonable profit by selling petrol at the government-stipulated price of N165 per litre.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time as Nigerian businesses and households have been grappling with the skyrocketing price of diesel since the beginning of the year. In January, the price of diesel hovered around N350 per litre. Today, it goes for as high as N850 per litre in some parts of the country.
These rising energy prices have had a far-reaching economic impact. Many businesses and households that depend on diesel-powered and petrol-powered generators, amidst the continuing unreliability of power from the national grid, have seen their operating and living expenses go up. To cushion the effects of these soaring energy prices, various businesses have resorted to passing down the cost to their customers, leading to a rise in the prices of their services and commodities in the market and further chipping away at the income levels and purchasing power of the consumers.
Expectations Heighten with FG’s 2nd Phase of Mass Metering Programme
The introduction of the service-based tariff (SBT) in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) effective from 1st September 2020 has put increased emphasis on the need to close the metering gap in the NESI.
It is the hope of industry operators that closing of this gap will enhance efficiency of revenue collection by Distribution Companies (DisCos) and thereby facilitate meeting their obligations to other upstream market participants.
According to analysis provided by Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the current metering gap in the NESI – based on recent customer enumeration data – is over 10 million, which comprises of unmetered customers as well as customers with obsolete meters that need to be replaced.
To close this gap, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the National Mass Metering Programme(NMMP) implementation.
This Framework outlines the operational modalities of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) financing support to the DisCos (Downstream) and Local Meter Manufacturers (Upstream).
FG Decentralizing National Grid, investing $550m to Boost Power
President Muhammadu Buhari has said his administration is decentralising the nation’s national grid through renewable mini-grids to address the challenges of electricity supply across the country.
The president, who revealed this in an interview he granted Bloomberg News, said the federal government had earmarked 550 million dollars to provide 20,000 Standalone Solar Systems (SHS), as well as Solar Hybrid mini-grids in over 250 locations.
“We are also decentralising the national grid through renewable driven mini-grids.
“The 550 million dollar Nigeria Electrification Project has deployed more than 20,000 Standalone Solar Systems (SHS), as well as Solar Hybrid mini-grids in over 250 locations,” he said.
On grid modernisation, the Nigerian leader said there were hundreds of ongoing projects and initiatives attracting funding from local and foreign investors.
He said: “Take my Presidential Power Initiative (PPI), a government-to-government initiative between the Governments of Nigeria and Germany, with Siemens AG, to upgrade the electricity grid with a 2 billion dollar investment.
Innovate UK, REA Move to Exploit $9.2bn Mini-Grid Market
With about 80 million people in Nigeria’s rural areas said to be without access to power, Innovate UK KTN, Rural Electrification Agency, REA and other stakeholders have moved to exploit the $9.2 billion (N3.2 trillion) a year mini-grid market.
To facilitate this, Innovate UK KTN, UK’s largest innovation network responsible for the implementation of the Global Alliance Africa project, has offered Nigerian companies the opportunity to pitch for grants from 20 million pound sterling available globally.
Speaking at the Energy Catalyst Briefing and Brokerage Event in Abuja yesterday, the Regional Lead of the Global Alliance Africa, Sophie West disclosed that the Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst programme helps early-to-late-stage innovators develop market-based technologies and business models that accelerate access to clean, modern and affordable energy in Africa, Asia and the Indo Pacific regions.
West explained that the Energy Catalyst, which is a programme aimed at accelerating the innovations needed to end energy poverty on the continent, is one of the UK’s biggest energy access focused grant funding initiatives, having invested more than £60 million in over 360 projects in eight different rounds.
MSMEs Protection, Education Panacea for Business Growth – CSO
The Association for Public Policy Analysis (APPA), a Civil Society Organisation, has called for the protection and education of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on their rights to electricity supply to promote business.
Mr Princewill Okorie, the National Coordinator of APPA, made the call in Abuja at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) version of National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Electricity Consumers Protection Advocacy Programme.
The programme has the theme: “Developing and Promoting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises operating in the Federal Capital Territory through exposition on Consumer Protection Component of Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005″.
Okorie, who is also the National Coordinator of MSME Electricity Consumer Protection, said that there was need to expose MSMEs to the consumer protection component of Electric Power Sector Reform ACT 2005.
He said that this would prevent unfair business practices which Distribution Companies (DisCos) perpetrate against consumers in the country.
He said that the programme which was in line with the vision and mission of Abuja Enterprises Agency and the National Policy of MSME would enable the entrepreneurs in FCT to know their right as electricity consumers.
Protests Force South Africa’s Eskom to Widen Power Cuts
South African state power company Eskom said it would be forced to widen electricity cuts on Friday and over the weekend as labour protests linked to deadlocked wage talks disrupt operations.
The utility, which has struggled to meet power demand in Africa’s most industrialised nation for over a decade, has been implementing “Stage 2” rotational outages since the start of the week.
But it will increase the severity of the outages to “Stage 4,” requiring up to 4,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity to be shed from the national grid,from 1100 local time until midnight (from 0900 to 2200 GMT) on Friday.
Stage 4 outages will also be implemented from 0500 local time until midnight on Saturday and Sunday.
“While exploring possible solutions to unlock the deadlock with the unions, Eskom appeals to its labour partners and striking employees to embrace the higher purpose of putting the people of South Africa first,” Eskom said in a statement.
Eskom said earlier that the protests had included incidents of intimidation of working employees and blockades on roads leading to power stations. The company has asked police to restore order.