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El-Rufai: How successive govts crippled investments in power sector

As Nigerians lament the poor state of the electricity despite huge investment by the Federal Government, the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-rufai, has opened up on how successive administrations after former President Olusegun Obasanjo crippled the vision the president had for the sector. El-rufai, who spoke at the energy conference yesterday in Lagos, also reaffirmed the need for Nigeria to leverage renewable energy in order to address its energy needs. Sharing his thoughts on the challenges in the sector, the governor said: “This country has lost about 15 years on efforts in investment in the energy sector.

“The clear roadmaps for structural reforms set up by the Obasanjo government in the electrical, power, and oil and gas sectors were protracted or abandoned by his immediate successors. “As examples, the investments in power generation and transmission infrastructure that were initiated by the Obasanjo government were either put on hold between 2007 and 2010 or largely jettisoned by his successor.

“The first version of the electricity industry bill, which I had the previliege as head of BP to initiate and led in drafting was ready by 2003, but was not presented to the National Assembly and of course we all know that it was not enacted then. “I will focus my brief remarks in the electricity sector as it where I believe that the state government have a key role to play.

The NGF believes that the solution to our enduring electricity supply deficits lies in a 3 way collaboration between the FG, state gov and private sector.” He pointed out that the expansion of generation, transimission and distribution capacity in the country in a soundregulatedenvironment that is market driven, adding that the state of the power sector retrace the hoops that informed the electricity power sector reform act that was passed in 2005. According to him, “he act provided for competitive electricity with a strong regulatory oversight role of the FG.

“There is no better way of the distortion of the electric power sector reform process than the untidy manner that the electricity assets were privatised in 2013 with many of the distribution companies not showing the expected technical capability and enterpreneural passion to deliver a compelling service to the customers.

“The culture of failure in the power sector stands in painful contrast to the outstanding success we have made in the telecom sector. “The FG makes $1.5 billion from the auction of telecoms license alone, not to mention tax revenue that has seen some growth. Nigeria has also leap frogged the hurdles inefficiency NITEL had placed on the country and can now boast of decent levels of phone access and internet penetration. “To privatise the electricity sector on the other hand means entraining government resources, absorbing as much as N1.6trillion in support by the CBN and ministry of finance by the end of 2021.

“There are interventions proposed by the World Bank to provide another $750 million to the sector in a performance for results role. In contrast, telecoms has never needed any intervention of this nature since deregulation in 2001. “This conference should be part of a national discussion on why the Electric Power Sector Reform Act were not realised. It is a signifant issue because that faiure continues to stamile our prospects for national development, industrialisation, and employment generation.” He further observed that one thing that was immediately apparent is that the telecoms licences were purchased by established pairs like MTN, who knew the industry, had a long term view of the market, and were prepared to invest and add value.

“The same cannot be said of the entities called the electricity distribution companies. The situation in the power sector suggests that why there are significant roles for the state and FG, the private sector has to be the largest source of investment, management, and know how for sustainable and affordable electricity provision. “If these structural bottlenecks are not addressed within a public policy perspectives that gives privacy to serious private sector leadership in the power sector, even the most determined minister of power can only engage in heroic but likely futile labour,” he noted. The governor also said that the same trajectory of experiences and disappointments and financial bleeding applies almost exactly to the oil and gas sector.

 

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