By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
THE Federal government has said that making sustainable electricity available to the citizenry is of immediate priority to the present Administration, even as it observed that lack of electricity has been a major impediment to economic growth of the country and that fixing it would mean fixing the major factors impeding the growth of the economy.
The Minister of State for Power, Arc. Nuhu Somo Way, who made this known when he received a delegation of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria in audience in his office, noted that it was unacceptable that a nation of 150 million people could not generate up to 4000MW of electricity to service the energy needs of its citizens.
He said the government was tackling the problem from all fronts stressing that the potentials of wind, hydro and solar energies were being explored in an effort to successfully address the crisis.
The Minister told the delegation that the reform being embarked upon in the sector was expected to address the short and medium term problems of the sector.
He revealed that the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) into 18 Companies as well as the review of tariff to make electricity cost effective were all geared towards stabilizing the sector.
The Power Minister said Government, was appreciative of the Central Bank of Nigeria proposed intervention of the opinion that the N500 billion interventions in the power sector was better deployed towards securitization of investors fund to assure them of the safety of their investment.
He stressed the need to study the sector networks to identify what the problems are and urged the organization to help explore the country and evaluate where the sources of energy are available.
The Minister pinpointed specific areas where the government would appreciate immediate intervention of Agencies as USAID, namely providing technical assistance for the development of national electricity master plan; conduct of technical audit in the sector; preparing a bankable feasibility study on the renewable power projects as well as technical assistance in the area of dependable information management database in the sector.
Wya said lack of proper information management in the sector has made it difficult to monitor the gas supply chain as there is no record of what quantity of gas comes out from which well or what is being supplied to who.
He also sought the involvement of USAID in the exploitation of the abundant hydroelectric potentials in Nigeria noting that when the dams dotting the vast country were being conceived, the aim was not just for domestic use and irrigation but also to generate electricity.
The Minister regretted that over the years, the power generation components of the dams were not harnessed even as the population and domestic energy requirement kept on increasing.
Responding to the Ministerâ€s demands, the Head of the delegation and Mission Director USAID in Nigeria, Mr. Ray Kirkland pledged his Organisationâ€s readiness to continue to partner with Nigeria.
He outlined a number of areas in which USAID had been collaborating with Nigeria including Workshops for Stakeholders in the Sector, financial and technical support to specific power plants in Nigeria.
Kirkland hinted that USAID was reviving one of the PAAâ€s project as requested by PHCN, collaborating in power processing agreements and review of tariff possibilities noting that in getting involved in the sector, USAID was conscious and sensitive to the physiological independence of a cross section of the sectorâ€s stakeholders.
He appreciated the Commercial opportunities inherent in the Ministerâ€s areas of concern and promised that USAID would evaluate those areas and get back to the Minister.
Accompanying the USAID Mission Director in the visit were the Director, Economic Group & Environment Office of USAID, Mr. Ron Greenberg, the Vice President, NEXANT Asia Limited, Mr. Wayne Mikutowicz and the Organisationâ€s Programme Manager-Energy and Climate Change, Ms. Imeh Okon.