The federal government yesterday said about 30 million Nigerians are currently without on-grid electricity supply to their homes.
The government noted that this number was mostly people within the country's rural areas and that it was working to attract sustainable private sector financing to improve electricity supply to the rural areas.
The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, gave the statistics while declaring open a seminar aimed at attracting private financing to the Nigerian renewable energy sector.
The seminar was organised in Abuja by the ministry in partnership with Henshaw Capital Partners to sensitise investors, fund managers, policy makers and other stakeholders on the need to support the government's effort at developing the renewable energy sector.
The minister was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ambassador Godknows Igali.
He explained that the seminar was meant to seek stakeholders' mobilisation of equity funds through private sector participation in the renewable energy sector.
Nebo, who cited the United Nations report on access to power, said: "There is still a wide gap in power supply. Sadly for us here in Nigeria, we still have about 30 million people that do not have access to power at all." "This is the reason the federal government is focusing on renewable energy, particularly off-grid solar and small hydro that would not need to depend on the national grid," Nebo added.
He further disclosed that the government was about rounding up the financing processes for the development and construction of the 3,050 megawatts (MW) Mambilla hydro power dam, which is expected to be inaugurated by President Goodluck Jonathan soon. "There are 264 hydro dams, which have not been fully utilised, so in this first quarter, government did a study and is fixing the turbines and other hydroelectric components in 12 of them to increase their generation capacity," he noted.
Also, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who was represented by an official of the ministry, Hajia Lare Shuaibu, stated the need to supplement mainstream power generation capacity with renewable energy sources.
Okonjo-Iweala equally noted that the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company Plc (NBET) has received proposals and enquiries on how to develop the vast renewable energy sources in Nigeria.
"Giving the national resources of sunlight, wind, biomass among others, we need to start thinking of how they can be harnessed for the power sector," she said.
The Chief Executive Officer, Henshaw Capital Partners, Barbara James, said in her remarks that business financing through bank and capital market lending as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was still relatively low. She explained that the fraction was still within 20 per cent unlike developing countries such as Brazil.
Barbara however noted that the seminar was to prepare the grounds for an intended development of a private equity and venture capital, where resources would be pooled to develop a sustainable renewable energy sector for the country.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Power, Senator Philip Aduda, also said in his goodwill message that despite its vast renewable energy sources, Nigeria still experiences acute shortage of power supply.
He stated that the renewable energy sector of the country was relatively new and thus needs help to grow. "This is a new frontier in the sector, so it needs political will and financiers for this. We must set up codes and standards to create solar power, solar PV among others and this is up to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to hasten it," Aduda said.