16 February 2013

Nigeria: System Collapse Cannot Continue, Warns Nebo

Repeated breakdown of electricity grid around the country is cause of "grave concern", power minister Chinedu Nebo warned Friday, insisting they could not be allowed to continue on "frivolous reasons".

"I have observed with grave concern the increasing frequency in system collapses of our grid," he told stakeholders at a technical retreat of the Presidential Task Force on Power in Abuja.

He said operatives responsible for the grid in the Transmission Company of Nigeria should be "extra diligent and vigilant."

"I shall not entertain frivolous reasons for continued system collapses. Owners of this process must sit up or be prepared to ship out," he warned.

"Another area of serious concern which is needed to be addressed is the poor track record of project delivery across the value chain and especially in the transmission segment which will remain in government hands," Nebo added.

He said inefficiency could frustrate attempts to sustainably drive Nigeria's power market through the private sector.

Nebo insisted having private sector drive power production in Nigeria was a "veritable option in order to align to the the internationally acceptable business standards," adding, "I will insist on this shift to happen soon."

Revising strategy

The two-day retreat will review a 2010 roadmap Nigeria has set to boost its power production in hopes of providing data appropriate for current and future challenges.

Power generation in Nigeria still lags behind its consumption, despite a handful of smaller generation schemes commissioned across the country.

Nebo said the country brought to its present shortage of supply "due to decades of neglect and unsustained infrastructure investment and reform" in the sector.

A current deregulation programme has broken up the sector into separate chains for production, transmission and distribution of electricity and sold government power assets to private bidders.

The sold assets are yet to be handed over, but Nebo warned distribution companies to "sit up during this transition period."

He said companies found to be sabotaging revenue collection targets would not be welcome, "because government will not tolerate complacency and ineptitude of these companies building up additional burdens of liabilities through the misconduct of these companies."

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