By Prince Okafor
VICE President Yemi Osibanjo, has said the Federal Government is set to spearhead investment in solar technology, both at utility scale and solar-to-home solutions.
Osibanjo, who stated this at the Nigeria Energy Forum, NEF, in Lagos, also said that government will provide exciting opportunities for private investment in solar technology and product manufacturing.
“This will also create developments in the country that will attract private investors in the privatised generation and distribution segments of the electricity supply value chain,” he said.
Osinbajo, was represented by his senior special assistant on power privatisation and acting head, advisory power team, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo.
He also said: “Currently, 14 Independent Power Plant, IPP utility scale projects, from 100 megawatts that will go to the grid are being negotiated, nine are actually ready to go in terms of documentation, so they can proceed to their financing.
“There are also the challenges of overstretched infrastructure and poor delivery networks resulting in poor services over the years which we also have inherited. Nigeria has four petroleum refineries, despite the increase in population and in the demand for refined petroleum products, there has not been any increase in the capacity of the refineries (last capacity upgrade was in 1988 (about 28 years ago). The existing capacities are also not performing optimally thereby necessitating the importation of refined petroleum products.
“There are also the challenges of inadequate infrastructure to transport the available gas to the power plants and vandalism of existing infrastructure to transport the available gas to the power plants and vandalism of existing infrastructure.
“Just recently a portion of Shell’s Forcados Export Terminal pipeline got ruptured just about the time a portion of Escravos–Lagos Pipeline System, ELPS, was also destroyed by vandals. For those reasons, power plants in the western axis, like Ughelli, Egbin, Omotosho 1, Olorunsogo 1, Omotosho National Integrated Power Solution, NIPP, now generate far below optimum. The reported gas constraint as at April 10, 2016, was about 2.8GW,” he said.
Also speaking, the Director, United States Agency for International Developments, USAID’s, Economic Growth Office in Nigeria, Mr. Mathew Burton, said that two out of three people in sub-Saharan Africa lacked access to electricity, which limits access to quality health care, education, and economic opportunities for over 600 million people.
According to him, “In Nigeria, efforts to diversify the economy are frustrated on a daily basis by the lack of reliable and affordable electricity. The cost of electricity eroded firm level competitiveness by driving up production costs and narrowing margins. As such, many sectors are simply not viable let alone competitive at a domestic, regional, or global level. “The growing call for greater domestic resource mobilisation in Nigeria misses the point that for firms and entrepreneurs to contribute more in the form of taxes, these businesses must first be profitable. It is for these reasons that I view access to electricity as the largest binding economic constraint facing Nigeria today,” he stated.