• Monday, May 27, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

The ‘politics’ of the power sector (3)

businessday-icon

 The World Bank’s PRGs being provided under the IDA-financed Nigeria Electricity and Gas Improvement Project (NEGIP) is key to enabling long-term gas supply. The PRGs will be used to cover private lenders against the risk of a public entity failing to perform its payment or contractual obligations. The NEGIP PRGs will be instrumental to achieving financial closure of the Egbin GSAA transaction by providing payment security for Chevron for the supply of gas to the plant.

These long-term contracts enabled by the PRG would also help to encourage investments in upstream gas production by international and domestic oil and gas companies. This will help to catalyse long-term private investments in Nigeria’s gas sector and underpin future investments in the power sector. Subsequent PRGs would support other gas supply agreements to these power plants even as the World Bank has already committed to a series of PRGs totalling $400m, of which the one for Egbin is the first to be signed. This template, of course, would be eventually replicated across all these power plants.

State of the hydro power sources

The Federal Government is also investing heavily to boost generation through the large, medium and small hydro plants with the total capacity of over 4,234mw being: Zungeru – 700mw; Mambilla – 3050mw; Gurara second phase -360mw; Itsi – 40mw; small hydro plant – 84mw.

State of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA)/projects 

This agency, which at inception inherited 2,269 projects from the Ministry of Power, has successfully completed and inaugurated 323. A balance of 1,946 of these projects is at different levels of completion. The agency, on its own, awarded contracts for 158 rural electrification projects (113 grid projects and 45 solar-based projects). Sixty-five of these projects have been completed and inaugurated, while the rest are at different levels of completion. This agency, which was suspended in the last administration under some controversial circumstances, has been resuscitated by Jonathan’s administration and currently has N10bn-plus earmarked to it by the Ministry of Power within the 2013 budget to complete these projects.

State of the other power sources

Another 1,896mw is being expected from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) like Aba IPP, etc, while another 806mw is being expected from the Federal Government legal assets before the end of 2013.

There are also at least 50 other Nigerian private IPPs of different capacities, as registered by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), that have either been connected to the national grid already or are being connected to it.

State of the sector before Goodluck Jonathan and his legacy

Then there is this group that would tell you, “President Jonathan should stop making excuses for his failures in this sector because PDP has been in office for 14 years and he should not talk about the wasted years of the military when it comes to development of these infrastructures.” Well, no one can change historical facts. Yes, Jonathan is a member of the PDP, but he can only answer for his own time in office. And yes, if the military had invested in power as Jerry Rawlings, also a military man, did in Ghana, or Hosni Mubarak, a maximum dictator, did in Egypt, the incoming governments wouldn’t be struggling with power as they are doing now and they would have been able to invest such funds elsewhere like the education and health sectors.

So these commentators should blame the likes of Buhari, IBB, Abacha and Abdulsalami and their cronies that ran the nation for so many years for stashing away several billions of the nation’s dollars in foreign accounts rather than using such in building critical infrastructure like power and others. These are the same guys that would begin to quote crazy figures that they believe the PDP has spent on the power sector for 14 years without telling you that some of these 18 power companies being privatised, 11 NIPPs, 5 hydro plants, and other transmission grid improvements were built with these same funds.

There is nowhere in the world where a current leader is blamed for the failures of his predecessors, even though some of them belong to his political party. As such, that logic cannot hold water in Nigeria – every president and his administration would always have specific successes and failures attached to it by history irrespective of how some individuals try to distort such facts. Obasanjo’s government would always be remembered for the telecommunications privatisation exercise that produced the MTN/Econet/Globacom/Etisalat, etc revolution in Nigeria, which has, in turn, produced more than 100 million subscribers in more than 10 years. Similarly, the government of the late Umar Yar’Adua would always be remembered for the Niger Delta amnesty programme that went on to provide an atmosphere of peace in the region that has allowed the nation to be able to produce 1.5m barrels of oil per day.

In the same way that Jonathan cannot lay claim to those successes, he cannot also be blamed for the failures of those administrations as well. So he would have to be judged by what he is able to achieve while in office, and it is now very apparent that Jonathan would be claiming this trophy as regards the power sector – I just hope that when that happens, these same folks won’t come and say, “Ehn, he is not the one that did it, na Obasanjo and Yar’Adua do the real work wey him come enjoy” or “Ehn, shebi it is the normal duty of government to provide services to its people, there is no big deal there. South Africa has had 48,000mw for more than 20 years already, wetin we dey celebrate?

 

FAVOUR B. AFOLABI

Afolabi is president at Viva Real Estates Company