…Says DISCOs major obstacle in power value chain
By Chris Ochayi
MINNA- The Federal Government, Monday announced that it has completed arrangements to concession six hydro dams to private operators under build, operate and transfer, BOT, scheme.
Minister of Works,, Power and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who disclosed this during the 29th Power Sector Stakeholders’ meeting in Minna, the Niger State capital, said the step was aimed at energising educational institutions and markets in the country.
Fashola explained that “These are Government-led initiatives based on the Rural Electrification plan approved by the President in 2016 to provide access to power for rural dwellers and vulnerable members of our society.”
According to him, “We proposed to use 6 small hydro dams that had been abandoned for decades, Federal Government owned universities and some markets as anchors.
Apart from the Universities, where Government is directly funding the intervention, the markets are being privately funded, contrary to the untrue allegations that have been made in the media, and I challenge those who made the allegation to provide proof to the contrary.
“There are currently 15 markets under contemplation with Ariaria, Sabon Gari and Sura markets in Aba, Kano and Lagos as flagships.
“The 6 hydro dams are to be concessioned to private operators to build, operate, and transfer.
“Our thinking is simple. While the whole value chain and power privatization gradually evolves, it is possible to create Oases of success by showing to our children that they can have reliable power while in school.
“If that is a reason to get children to school and keep them there, certainly, no good business can oppose this.
“Indeed, it seems to me sensible to expect that the future of today’s business and even Government, rests solely on the quality of education that the current generation of students get.
“As for the markets, the 37,000 shops in Ariaria, about 13,000 in Sabon Gari, and about 1,000 in Sura represent SMEs, where the majority of our people earn a living.
“They are currently paying for expensive power from small and environmentally unfriendly generators.
“It seems to me that our nation will have come to their aid if we deliver reliable power to the most vulnerable like them.”
Meanwhile, Fashola, In spite of recent quit threat issued by Distribution Companies, DISCOs, insisted that they are the major obstacle militating against progress in the power value chain.
The minister noted that” Those who know and who genuinely desire to solve problems in this industry do not need to be told that the most pressing challenge of the Sector today lies at the Distribution end.
“Amongst the challenges at this sector of the value chain, (and there are problems in Gas, Generation and Transmission), the most urgent are Distribution of available energy to consumers, and there is an unused energy in the region of 2,000 Megawatts in this category.
“The other, of course, is the supply of meters to consumers. These two issues of power distribution and supply of meters rank highest in the feedback from the stakeholders in the industry.
“In order to address these challenges and find solutions to them, I issued policy guidelines and directives to appropriate institutions for them to act.
“It is in this context that I think it is fortuitous that Mainstream is our host today, because my remarks will focus on the review of progress we have made with some of our policies.
“I have always insisted that there must be methods to decision making, and this includes evaluation of decisions to see how they have progressed and what needs to be added or modified.
“Therefore, we must understand that policies are not an end in themselves. Policies represent an expression of our hopes and aspirations and must be embraced, nursed and nurtured to deliver on all their capacities and possibilities.
“In a sense, I liken policies to the human being. At birth, he represents the hopes of parents for tomorrow. Left alone, that infant is helpless, so he is dependent for feeding, clothing and all survival needs until he becomes ambulatory, able to stand, walk, talk, run, and matures into adulthood.
“With this analogy in the background, I will address the progress of some of our policies for the benefit of members and the larger public.”