In a move to ensure that the Nigerian electricity industry gives priority to indigenous operators and workers, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is expected to issue regulations on national content.
This comes a couple of days after Kola Balogun, an indigenous manufacturer of electricity meters and chairman of MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company (MEMMCOL), has called on the Federal Government to introduce Nigerian content policy in the power sector to encourage local production of electricity meters.
The regulations, billed to be released by the third quarter of this year, set out guidelines to ensure that Nigerians are given first consideration in the areas of project execution, employment, training and technology transfer, among others.
Notably, the Federal Government has repeatedly said pursuing a local content law was for the good of Nigerian citizens and society. Though initial fears were that the law may be a ploy to nationalise the assets of foreign firms in different sectors of the economy, the government insisted that the Act would simply guarantee that investments made in services and facilities within the country will be fully utilised and that the government will ensure that the rights of every investor is protected under the law.
“There will be a need for skilled manpower and the regulator has the responsibility of ensuring the delivery of manpower needs,” says Steven Andzenge, NERC commissioner in charge of Legal, and Licensing & Enforcement.
The regulation is necessitated by the need to better the position the electricity industry at this critical stage in its development, drawing valuable lessons from the local content initiatives of other sectors in Nigeria.
Eyo Ekpo, commissioner in charge of Market, Competition & Rates said, “I believe strongly that we should do everything possible to avoid the pitfalls experienced in the oil and gas and telecommunications sectors.”
Several calls have been made to the government to create local content departments in the ministries and parastatals like in the oil sector to enhance capacity building and job creation for Nigerian youths.
Balogun advises, “The Federal Government should ensure that any product imported into the country must be local content-driven and spread it to ministries like aviation, power and transport. Government should start creating a platform to ensure that meter components can be done here, even, if we cannot manufacture the whole equipment here. I urge the Federal Government to allow the local content development to be a signature in all the sectors to open up employment and growth. Once there is a policy enhancing local production, it will promote growth and better opportunity for Nigerians,” he said.
AMETO AKPE Abuja