Nigeria’s Senate Seeks Break-Up Of DISCOs Into Smaller Players For Efficiency

•Targets 100,000mw Installed Capacity
•Committee Begins Probe Of Power Supply Hiccups
Worried by the seeming collapse of the nation’s electricity value-chain, and its drag on economic growth and development now and in future, the Senate, on Tuesday mandated its Committee on Power to investigate the activities of power generation, transmission and distribution companies.
During deliberations on the motion, the lawmakers urged the Federal Government to fragment the country’s power distribution companies into smaller, more manageable components for optimal performance
According to Ezrel Tabiowo, Special Assistant (Press) to the President of the Senate, the lawmakers also advocated an increase in the country’s installed capacity to 100,000 megawatts to match the size of her economy and population.
The committee which has four weeks to submit its report for consideration is to unravel the causes of the lingering power supply challenges across the country.
This followed a motion by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu North), who during plenary on Tuesday, challenged the Federal Government to find solutions to the power deficits facing the country.
For him, much is expected from a country with a 200m population, which makes her the seventh most populous nation on earth, if it is to compete favourably with peers in terms of development and ensure that the economy grows faster than the current 2.6% per annum.
Citing Indonesia and Philippines as examples, the lawmaker noted that both countries with a population of 267 million and 107 million, respectively, have installed power capacity of 60,000 megawatts and a generating capacity of 42,465mw, as well as installed capacity of 20,055 megawatts and a generating capacity of 16,271 megawatts respectively.
The lawmaker while expressing optimism that Nigeria can set a realisable target of generating capacity of 100,000 megawatts in the next ten years, said the same can be achieved through a mix of energy sources such as natural gas, hydro, coal, wind and renewable energy.
He added that the various zones in the country are naturally positioned to take advantage of the various energy mix and renewables, particularly solar energy.
“The northern part of the country with a vast expanse of land can tap into large solar farms while the southern parts of the country with significant reserves of natural gas and coal can generate power from the same.
“Both the north and South have large water bodies that can still be dammed for hydro,” Utazi said, stressing that Nigeria can improve on its transmission infrastructure by up-scaling its networks from the current 330kv and 132kv to 765kv super grid. These, he believes, will enable big plants to send power through such a grid over long distances.
He added that beyond generation and transmission, Distribution Companies (DisCos) lack the financial and technical capacities required, thereby resulting in their inability to pay for power which Generation Companies (GenCos) deliver to the grid.
Underscoring the motive behind the privatization of the power sector in 2013, Utazi stressed that the objective of privatizing power distribution assets was not to achieve the highest financial bids, but to get capable companies that can achieve the lowest Average Technical Commercial and Collection losses within five years.
In her contribution, Senator Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central) said the failure of the power sector was largely due to the refusal of the leadership of past governments to embrace new ideas.
Another lawmaker, Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano North) said uninterrupted power supply remains a fundamental requirement needed in a modern economy.
The lawmaker, who bemoaned previous policies particularly under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, said the power problems of the country remain the same despite their introduction.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to engage all stakeholders in the power sector with a view to fashioning workable solutions to Nigeria’s power crisis.
“We need to bring experts together to look at the power sector as a whole in a bid to realising these targets. Our companies are now being moved to Ghana, this is because of power.
“The Committee on Power should get everybody together. The government cannot do it alone. Let’s bring everybody together so we can find a lasting solution to this problem,” Barau stressed.
Senator representing Cross River South, Gershom Bassey, said Nigeria needs to develop the country’s transmission infrastructure if she must resolve the power problem.
According to him, Nigeria’s transmission infrastructure currently lacks the capacity to withstand an increase to power generation.
The lawmaker, however, advised the Federal Government to build on existing policy frameworks inherited from past administrations.
Accordingly, the Senate urged the Federal Government to upgrade the transmission infrastructure of Nigeria’s power grid for more efficient transmission of power.

Photo caption: Senate President Ahmed Lawan arriving for plenary on Tuesday, November 19, 2019.

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