By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA — The Federal Government declared, yesterday, that it is currently making serious effort to unlock full development of gas resources of over 186 trillion standard cubic feet of gas with a view to making the commodity available for the power sector and other domestic industries.
Besides, the government in collaboration with a consortium of financial institutions have pooled a total sum of $4.7 billion, (about N752 billion) which is already being earmarked for power transmission expansion in the next five years.
The Vice President, Arc. Namadi Sambo, who revealed this while inaugurating the National Council on Power, NCOP, at the Sheraton Hotels and Tower in Abuja, said the effort is being prioritised and given full focus.
Arc. Sambo added that “it is expected, therefore, that in the next couple of months, substantial gas would be available to the power sector both through conventional means and by opening new opportunities for indigenous private gas developers.”
The Vice President, who was represented by the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, explained further that, in the funding strategies envisaged under the Nigerian Gas master plan, the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, NSIA, is being further capitalised to “ensure it plays greater intervention role in gas development.”
According to him: “With respect to the issue of improving our transmission infrastructure, this had been identified by many as one of the weakest links in our perspective plan towards making power available and ensuring greater reliability.
“Let me reassure all stakeholders in the sector that no stone is being left unturned in ensuring that Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, is well funded to be able, at any time, to exceed our generation capacity in terms of its wheeling power.
“Besides our commitment to adequate provisions within our national annual budget in the years ahead, we will continue to expand our national transmission grid to all parts of the country through additional resources leveraged from Development Financial Institutions, DFIs, such as Africa Development Bank, AFDB, Islamic Development Bank, IDB, World Bank Group, WBG, Japan International Corporation Agency, JICA, among others.
“A total of USD$4.7 billion (N752 billion) is already being earmarked, for transmission expansion in the next five years. In addition to this, more innovative approaches will be adopted to fund the TCN through opening possible private sector investment windows at the nearest time possible.
“Similarly, it is not surprising, I have been informed, that the question of adequate metering has been raised repeatedly in the course of this Council and indeed in discussions among Nigerians. Government is greatly concerned that the metering level amongst consumers remains low and the incidences of arbitrary or estimated billing still exists.
“For the power sector to progressively grow in the direction in which government intends it to be, this metering gap must be bridged immediately.
“Indeed, adequate metering could play a multiplier role by shoring up the market revenues of the distribution companies themselves and also ensuring greater equity and accuracy in the billing of consumers.
“It is for this reason the government is sourcing various funding revenues, including opening an initial N33 billion soft term credit to enable the distribution companies acquire smart meters and making them more available to consumers.”
Arc. Sambo noted that, “as it pertains to the overall funding of the power sector, a number of efforts are being made to leverage resources from various funding agencies to ensure that all participants in the sector have access to funds under soft and long term conditions.”
On the energy mix prospect, the Vice President said the government was committed to attracting new investments to improve the energy mix, adding, “available studies show, Nigeria’s coal belt covers over eight states and is capable of generating about 5,000 megawatts of power if fully developed.”