This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Power - Rea Pledges to Connect 400,000 Nigerian Households

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has said about 400,000 Nigerian households in the rural areas will have access to electricity by 2015.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), REA, Kenneth Achugbu, made the disclosure in a presentation at a power workshop in Abuja,.

Achugbu who represented by an official of REA, Ayang Ogbe, stated that the REA hopes that by 2015 it would be in the position to have put 280 rural electrification projects; grid and off-grid, in place. The impact of this, he noted was that 400,000 new households would have access to electricity.

He however declined to provide details of projects that REA intends to deploy in its delivery of its set targets or how the agency intends to accomplish this within a privatised Nigerian power sector.

But the REA's projections have elicited reactions from experts in the Electricity Industry, who criticised it for its seeming lack of focus and grasp of developments in the country's evolving electricity market.

Reacting to the projection, former CEO of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Akinwunmi Bada, noted that there was a clear disconnect in the agency's projection with contemporary developments in Nigeria's power sector.

Bada argued that such seeming disconnect might had contributed to REA's funding challenges, adding , "there is no information if the REA intends to develop or partner power projects. Where would REA get the power from? What exactly in terms of projects is it doing? The presentation paints a very gloomy picture. The REA has not adapted to the paradigm shift and continues to operate the way it did in 2006".

Bada said that the agency should base its projections on credible studies.

Also, Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP), Beks Dagogo-Jack, stated: "In a purely privatised market where the electricity distribution companies are owned by licensed private operatives, it would be nice to locate the REA in that context".

He warned that the progress of the agency and its mandate was being threatened by such lethargic mode of operation.

Despite what it terms an acute shortage of funds which prevents it from carrying out most of its basic functions, the REA estimated that it hopes to increase rural and semi-urban access to electricity from its current estimated 35 percent to 75 percent by 2020.

The agency, whose operations had been suspended over alleged contracts manipulations and financial misappropriation, commenced operation recently. Established in 2006 after the passage into law of the Electric Power Sector Reform (EPSR) Act 2005, REA has the duty to carry out electrification in the rural areas of Nigeria both with grid and off-grid mode of electrification.

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