The constitutional amendment signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 17, empowering states to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity in areas covered by the national grid, could open up the sector to investments from Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and other investors, analysts say.
Olalekan Olabode, chairman of Nigerian Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE), Lagos Chapter, told BusinessDay at the Power and Elec Nigeria Energy Exhibition in Lagos that the new law would quicken the pace of industrialisation as it is capable of solving Nigeria’s power challenges.
“That is why most of our industries are leaving the country to get things done because power is available, reliable, and not as expensive as using generators,” he said.
According to Olabode, the new law gives OEMs opportunities to come down to Nigeria now that they know the sector is open for investments.
“For example, Lagos State has independent power producers (IPPs), which have built several power plants already. So, coming to Lagos at this time is a boom for businesses. It is just for the government to develop strategies, meet the right people, and we can make things work fine,” he said.
For Emmanuel Akinwole, former national chairman of NIEEE, the law has set all states in Nigeria free, including individuals and organisations, to go into the real power business.
“If anyone invests in power, you will get an adequate return. I will encourage all investors now to cash in on it. This is the appropriate time because it is the beginning, so that you can make maximum returns,” he said.
“Investors can talk to the Lagos State ministries in charge of power. They are ready to listen because the government has signed the law that says people can go one by one, state by state, into power generation, transmission, and distribution to help deliver dividends and democracy far better and cheaper.”
On the state electricity autonomy, Akinsola Cole, past national chairman, NIEEE, said Nigeria should localise this opportunity.
“You do not generate, transmit, and distribute power just for generating or transmitting. There must be an economic base that is ready to take it up. Lagos State has that base among some other states in Nigeria. What the president has done will invariably help states like Lagos,” Cole said.
“Now that the state governments can generate, without looking for special purpose vehicles, they will be able to make up their minds now about how many megawatts they want to put in this corridor.”
According to Cole, hydrogen is becoming a very serious issue. “Recently, scientists have been able to decode it. You can use seawater directly to generate hydrogen without even cleaning it up,” he said.
“And so in that master plan, we have also recommended that they put in hydrogen plants so that they can have hydrogen gas as a replacement for natural gas for electricity generation.”
Cole added: “We need to tell ourselves certain facts. Nigeria cannot use wind energy. Some people talking about it are just laughing in the background because we do not have the wind to generate electricity to drive windmills in Nigeria.
“And for solar, we have an opportunity to strike there, but do not forget there is a limit to which you can use solar. When discussing real industrialisation, you need the real load that fossil fuel, gas, and hydrogen will give. We should not try to put a lot of emphasis on solar.”
According to him, solar energy will care for homes and small cottage industries, but it is not there for real industrialisation.
Shri Chandramouli Kumar Kern, consul general of India in Lagos, said: “India and Nigeria are of the same colour. We were once at this stage. India is also doing great research in hydrogen.We also do ethanol mixing in gasoline. India and Nigeria can collaborate to have organized training in reaching the power needs of Nigeria.”
According to Cole, only India and Germany are ready now to share hydrogen technology with other countries.