By Emmanuel Elebeke, ABUJA

The Country Director, World Bank Group, Shubham Chaudhuri, has said Nigerians were ready to pay for electric power if it is available and reliable. 

Mr Chaudhuri stated this during a breakout panel session of the just concluded 27th National Economic Summit on “Lighting Nigeria: A solutions Framework for Power Recovery” in Abuja.

He said the private sector has the capacity to provide the kind of constant electricity that Nigerians deserve if provided with the enabling environment. 

The World Bank representative, however,  said the government has a duty to create the much needed friendly policies and regulatory clarity to make it work. 

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He cited a Niger community where locals paid as high as N135 per kilowatt hour for constant electricity at the time when city centres were paying N51 per kilowatt hour. 

“The average Nigerians are willing to pay for power if it is reliable.

“The Niger community is paying N135 per kilowatt hour for solar with constant electricity.

“The private investment will provide the kind of electricity Nigerians desire but the government will play the role of policy and regulatory clarity,” he said.

In his remarks, the Director-General Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, said it is cheaper to pay for power than to cut corners.

“It is a fact to say there were mutual default and contraction obligations between the parties; there is enough blame to go around.

“We must work towards achieving fiscal sustainability in this sector, but we should aim to achieve in this forum that the regressive tariff on power must come to an end  in 2022.

“That means by 2022, Nigeria must achieve a cost reflective tariff

“I can call this regressive tariff because those who need it the least are getting it the most.

“When you look at the way the tariff on power goes, the top 20 percent of power by income level are enjoying 60 percent of the subsidy, while the 40 percent get less than 7 percent of the subsidy.

“Then the poorest get only 1.5 percent of this  subsidy that has cost us over a trillion Naira.

“When you take the cost of self-generation, it is invariably cheaper to pay a cost-reflective tariff and get requisite investments in this sector.” 

Vanguard News Nigeria

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