By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA – The Federal Government announced, Monday, that it has recovered over $64.63 million electricity debts owed it by international customers in Benin Republic and Niger Republic.
Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, who, disclosed this at the 21st monthly power sector operators meeting held in Asaba, the Delta State capital, explained the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader, NBET, will work out the modalities for distribution of the funds.
Fashola also announced that Federal Government will make available a total of N37 billion to address chanlenges in supply of meters to the customers.
According to him, “I am happy to announce that we have recovered $64,630,055:00 from our international customers in Benin Republic and Republic of Niger. The Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader, NBET, will work out the modalities for distribution.”
“There are other challenges that we must also overcome together; estimated billing and metering, and in this regard we anxiously await the Regulation from NERC to open up meter supply Business.
“Similarly I am happy to report that following the approval of the Federal executive Council, FEC, earlier in the year, the dispute over meters supply contract that started since 2003, was resolved by a Court approved settlement on Thursday the 9th day of November 2017.
“This means that there will be N37 billion available for meter supply by the contractor to DISCOs who want to partner and can reach their independent agreement with the contractor. While we await the regulations by NERC, a lot of preparatory work can be done,” he said.
In the area of rural electrification, Fashola said REA completed the guidelines for the operation of the rural electrification fund that will help vulnerable groups and communities gain access to funding to support their electricity development program.
He added, “by way of explanation the Rural Electrification Fund was created by Section 88 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) of 2005 to promote support and provide rural electrification access.
“The fund will provide a partial single payment capital subsidy and or technical assistance to eligible private Rural Power Developers, NGOs or communities to invest in options such as hybrid mini grids or solar home systems to scale up rural access to electricity.
“Those who will be served are the unnerved and underserved Rural Communities.”
He said, “What they are likely to get are minimum amounts of $10,000 (N3.5m) and Maximum amounts of $300,000. (N106m) or 75% of project cost which ever is less,” adding, the REA will publish details of guidelines and eligibility.”
On improved power supply being experienced in the country, Fashola recalled that, “These are only headline items of developments that characterize the progress we are making month after month, especially since March 2017.
“They do not represent, or pretend to fully report, all of the progress that is going on at distribution levels, which is highlighted by the New Asaba Mains 2x15MVA injection substation completed and commissioned today by Benin DISCOs.
“This is expected to improve service to Okwe, Akuebulu, Jarret, Ogbeofu, Osadebe Way, Okwe Housing Estate, Oduke, New Jerusalem, Malbovil and more by reducing load shedding and increasing the hours of supply.
“Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week and month by month we have not only gained momentum, we are seeing progress that inspires us not to flag, progress that inspires us to continue, because the power problem can be successfully managed by Nigerians.
“Not even your worst critic can deny that his experience has improved; even if he is reluctant to acknowledge it, which is his prerogative.
“Our work is certainly not driven by a quest for acknowledgment; on the contrary it is driven by our belief in our collective abilities to change what we do not accept.
“We remind ourselves that we are not immune from what we do. If we make it work as we intend to, it will also serve us.
“We thank well-meaning Nigerians who are gracious to acknowledge that their experience has improved and who ask us to do more. Your honesty inspires us to continue.
“Dear members, we all know that the progress this year was due to many things we have done and the peace in the Gas producing regions which enabled us to get the gas stations and the Hydro stations to work together.
“Now that the rains are coming to an end we expect some minor, not major, reduction in the production from the Hydro, and we must work now to keep all the gas stations well maintained and operational.
“I am sure that we can do this, if there is peace in the gas producing areas and gas supply is not interrupted.”