The success or otherwise of the ongoing reforms in the power sector will largely be determined by infrastructure and human factors, stakeholders who converged on Lagos last Thursday to discuss the transformation of the Nigerian power sector, have said.
According to them, Nigeria’s power infrastructure has floundered for many years, resulting in chronic shortages and constant disruption of electricity supply. They also identified lack of sufficient human capacity development as a problem that has plagued the sector for many years.
James Olotu, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, who spoke at the seminar organised by Akindelano Legal Practitioners (ALP), described the power sector as the new frontier.
“Between 1970 and 1980, it was the oil; between 1980 and 2006, it was banking; 2006 to 2012, it was telecommunications; from 2013, it is power and the transformation of the power sector will have a multiplier effect on other sectors.”
He noted that before the beginning of the current privatisation process, Nigeria had not been investing in infrastructure development.
He cited that in China, there is a national policy of generating additional 4,000 megawatts to the national grid, which can only be made possible by continuous infrastructural development.
He also stressed the need for direct involvement of government in improving the physical infrastructure in the power sector, adding that most of the power projects such as the 102 transmission network projects, 291 distribution network projects, 10 gas plants, and the power stations and sub-stations are still under construction.
Speaking on the sidelines, Sam Amadi, chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said: “We are building human capacity in the power sector. We are collaborating with the National Universities Commission (NUC) to review the curriculum in the universities to make it more relevant to power generation, not for today, but for tomorrow. NAPTIN (National Power Training Institute of Nigeria) is there to build immediate capacity of those who are already in the workforce. From a regulator’s point of view, we are building capacity. Like I said at the panel session, market quickly gets human capacity, once certain things are right and the profitability is there.”
Chris Bale, CEO, power, Honeywell Group, had earlier said that improving human capital was fundamental to the success of the reform.
“There are a lot of investors that we spoke with who are keen to be involved in the Nigerian power sector, but of course, the industry is still comparatively small, and if we want to increase the industry, then we need more right kinds of people and it is well known that training programmes in PHCN (Power Holding Company of Nigeria) and its predecessors have not been taking place for many years and we are going to need to recruit highly qualified Nigerians, make sure they are properly trained and then give them interesting and important work to do”.
Continuing, he said: “Clearly, Nigeria needs to significantly expand its infrastructural facilities in the power sector. So we have got a lot of work to do, but it is an exciting opportunity and private investors are now lining up to do that work after the privatisation.”