By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
THE Minister of Power, Dr. Lanre Babalola has hinted that the current demand for power in the country is in the range of 5,100 megawatts.
Babalola, who was speaking on Tuesday at the rollout workshop of the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN), in Abuja, noted, however, that for the country to attain its vision of becoming one of the best economies in world by the year 2020, it would require about 25,000 megawatts of electricity.
He said, â€œPower is the bedrock of economic growth. The sector has struggled over the years to provide adequate power. Currently we have available capacity in excess of 4000 megawatts, which is about 60 percent of our installed capacity.
â€œBased on a recently concluded study, our current demand is in the range of 5,000 megawatts. The inability to maximize our assets is due to a number of reasons including the way these assets are managed.â€
The minister blamed the epileptic system on the inability of past governments to invest heavily in the power sector, adding, however, that the present government is committed to getting the sector back on its feet.
According to him, despite the fact that the power sector receives a large chunk of the annual budget, more investment is still needed to create a robust and modern day power industry.
He said, â€œBecause we receive a sizeable chunk of the yearly budget does not mean we have all we need. The power sector is obviously one of the most capital intensive sector, and despite the fact that we receive a lot of money; we are still playing catch-up for investments we did not make in the past.
â€œWhen we analysed all that has led us to where we are today, the issue of capacity building and funding have been identified and we are working very hard to make sure that we address all these issues.â€
Babalola added that training aimed at increasing the knowledge and skills of personnel in the sector was critical for the development and sustainability of the power sector.
â€œTrained personnel are the valuable asset of an organisation or industry and are responsible for its progress and stability. Therefore, NAPTIN has been charged with the responsibility of creating a pool of committed and competent professionals equipped with appropriate technical and managerial skills to steer the Nigerian power sector,â€ he noted.
He added, â€œWe have the quality in terms of technical competence, but when it comes to knowledge you can never have enough. Training is very important for a critical sector such as power and we believe that with the roll out of NAPTIN, we would a more rounded training for managers in the sector.â€
He said in view of the Federal Governmentâ€™s overwhelming desire to have an electricity supply industry that can meet the needs of its citizens in the 21st Century, it introduced the power sector reform programme, which gave rise to the on-going restructuring exercise, the need for increased investment, and technical and perceptional changes that are taking place.
â€œThe stirring process has obviously deeper implications on manpower engaged in this sector. Key inputs into electricity production and supply are physical infrastructure, fuel and labour or skilled personnel.
â€œManpower constraints, which has stymied services is a major bottleneck to achieving improved and reliable power supply both in technical and commercial aspects of operations,â€ said Babalola.â€