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Electricity Power Sector Reform Bill passes second reading in Senate

A bill seeking to repeal the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act 2005 passed second reading at the Senate on Tuesday. Presenting the lead debate on general principles of the bill, sponsor of the proposal, Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue), said the bill is also seeking to consolidate legislation in Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and enact an omnibus electricity act for the industry to provide the ideal legal and institutional framework that would guide the post-privatisation phase of the industry. According to him, the bill further seeks to provide the framework that will attract more investors to leverage the modest gains of the privatised electricity industry to accelerate growth in power incapacity and improve generation of power through increased investment in new technologies.

The ex-Benue State governor said the bill when passed into law would enhance transmission and distribution of power generated and minimise aggregate value chain loses. Suswam said despite the achievements in the power sector, the sector has not been able to make electricity available to 75 per cent of rural population as envisaged in the National Electric Power Policy.

“This is because the sector is currently plagued by a number of challenges some of which are operational constraints that emerged after the privatisation. While others may be attributed to the gaps inherent in the extant statutory framework,” he said. The legislator said the privatised power sector is facing enormous post-privatisation challenges, including absence of tariffs, inadequate enumeration, metering of consumers, limited access to funds for investment. According to him, other challenges are high levels of Aggregate Technical Commercial and Collection (ATC &C) losses and poor revenue generation.

He said, “All these constraints have received various interventions by the executive and legislative arms of goverment over the years. But these challenges have continued to threaten the viability of successor companies including their financial capacity to invest in network improvement to guarantee reliable power supply as envisaged in their respective Performance Agreement.”

Suswam said the bill when passed would provide the framework for power diversification through the use of cleaner renewable energy sources. “The bill will also eliminate current barriers to private sector investment across the power value chain and attract the funds needed to address the current funding gaps confronting the industry since the privatisation of the power sector,” he said. After the bill passed second reading, the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, referred it to the Committee on Power for further legislative work, and to report back to plenary in four weeks.

 

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