January 10, 2011

Nigeria maintains lead in generator imports in Africa …

By Clara Nwachukwu with agency report
NIGERIA has continued to maintain the lead among African countries in the import of generating sets ranging from 1 to 2,000KVA, of which about $103.1million was spent on its importation between January and June 2010.

The lead has been sustained by the inability of successive administrations in the country to find lasting solutions to the endemic power crises, which has turned every household into a power generator through the purchase of all manner of generating sets.

A recent data from HM Customs and Excise Statistics, on generators import for the first half of the year between January and June, 2010, show that Nigeria has been the leading importer for the last five years since 2007.

Other countries such as Angola, Egypt, Algeria and Libya, which follow in the lead respectively, did not even come close to half of Nigeria’s import levels in the six-month period.

Attempts by the democratic governments of former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo; and late Umaru Yar A’dua, to achieve 10,000 megawatts of power failed woefully.

Furthermore recent efforts by the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to increase generating capacity to any appreciable higher level, have yielded even lesser results, other than constant confrontations by the electricity workers unions.

Accordingly, available power supply to the people has continued to drop, while Nigerians pay through their noses purchasing and running generators, which became the main source of power supply since 1997.

African Review of Business and Technology, in a recent analysis of the power situation in Africa, said, “Exports (generating sets) to Africa totalled nearly US$500m for the first six months of this year, but the forecast for the whole year is bullish and showing an increase over the 2009 figures.”

Africa Review stated that, “Exports to the top five countries still remain in a reasonable steady state and account for over 50 percent of all Africa’s imports.”

In particular, it added, “Nigeria spends US$8bn a year running the diesel generating sets that have now become the main source of power… the lack of any expansion in power generation still means that the country only provides enough electricity to run a refrigerator for one in every 30 people.”

Despite these tales of woe, not much progress is expected in the power sector in view of the forthcoming general elections, as all attention is now focused on the outcome of the elections, in which the incumbent president wants to run.

Already, the rest of Nigerians, who cannot afford the generating sets are expecting to be plunged into greater darkness, as even the little electricity supply they currently enjoy would be taken away as the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, and the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, issued a 21-day ultimatum from December 17, which expired on Saturday.

The electricity workers are miffed over government’s refusal to honour collective agreements reached with them, with regard to a number of issues including the balance of 137 percent salary increase; regularization of over 10,000 casual/contract appointments; and the non-remittance of over N120bn super-annuation fund.