By Ebele Orakpo
As the countdown to the December dead line for the achievement of 6,000 megawatts power generation promised Nigerians by the Federal Gov
ernment begins, hapless Nigerians who are no longer strangers to unfulfilled promises by their leaders, are watching to see how this 8th wonder of the world would be performed.
Meanwhile, the power situation is not improving. Across the country, Nigerians stay for days without power supply. In fact, they are so used to not having electricity supply from the utility company, Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) that whenever there is power supply for a few hours, they begin to wonder what has gone wrong because as far as they are concerned, it is abnormal to have light for up to an hour without interruption.
As a result of all these, almost every household has a generator, no matter how small. At least the smallest ones popularly called I better pass my neighbour, can power the light bulbs and the fans which guarantees a semblance of a good nightâ€™s rest despite the noise and fumes.
According to the General Secretary, Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Comrade Joe Ajaero in a chat with Vanguard, â€œAt present, the country generates about 2,700 megawatts.â€
With this, one wonders how possible it is for the government to meet its 6,000mw target in the next few weeks. According to a recent World Alliance for Decentralised Energy (WADE) report, â€œ Nigeria currentlyÂ suffers from acute energy poverty.
Less than 50 per cent of the population have access to electricity, a situation particularly severe in rural areas. Since inadequate access to electricity is a key driver of poverty, low economic growth and underdevelopment, Nigeria urgently needs to address the energy problem if it is to achieve its Vision 20:2020 and the Millennium Development Goals.â€
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had noted that about 79,000 Nigerians die every year as a result of indoor smoke pollution, no thanks to generators, kerosene stoves and lanterns, wood stoves, coal etc.Â In the same vein, surveys carried out by the United Nations Industrial Organisation (UNIDO) revealed that manufacturers in Nigeria generate 72 per cent of their own power needs. Is it any wonder then that made-in-Nigeria goods are more expensive when compared to goods imported from countries like China, India, Indonesia etc?
Unfortunately, the government is not fully exploring other sources of energy like solar and wind which Nigeria has in abundance.Dr. Patrick Owelle, the managing director/Chief Executive Officer, PSC Industries Ltd, had in an interview with Vanguard challenged the Federal Government to embrace solar energyÂ ifÂ indeed it is serious about achieving its target and even more. He stated categorically that his company can provide the 6,000 megawatts overnight, noting that solar energy is cleaner as the question of environmental pollution with fumes and noise, green house gases effect, fluctuations and so on, does not arise.
Moreover, it is more sustainable without the risk of vandals breaking pipes .He stated that instead of government pumping in so much money into the present set up, it would be wiser for them to use that money to set up solar farms from which residents could be supplied as is done in developed countries.
A solar farm, according to Owelle whose company is set to start manufacturing solar panels in Nigeria from next year, is a congregation of solar panels and inverters to change the direct current generated from the solar panels to alternating current which can then be fed into the grid directly. The utility company then pays for it while it supplies and bills the consumers for the services. Already, an European consortium is taking advantage of the abundant sunlight in Africa as it has put in $600 billion into the Moroccan solar desert initiative.