|Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola|
In a renewed effort to re – energise its commitment to providing incremental, stable and uninterrupted power supply to Nigerians, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola has disclosed some policy directions for the power sector for 2017.
The Minister made the disclosure recently in Abuja during the monthly Power Sector Dialogue Series with theme; 2016 Power Sector Review and 2017 Power Policy Direction organized by the Nigeria Electricity hub, a subsidiary of NEXTIER Power, a leading policy advisory firm with a focus on the Nigeria electricity market.
Speaking in 2016, Fashola reacted to the call for the reversal of the privatization of the power assets, saying that it will be almost impossible to reverse, as the exercise is just three years old, and needs time to mature.
In his words, “We should think on what to do to make it work better, instead of canceling it, because that will only take us backward to the beginning”.
The Minister said every time we cancel contracts we send negative signals to our foreign investors that we don’t respect agreements, saying with privatization, government is now a policy maker and a regulator.
On the other challenges facing the sector, the Minister stated that accurate demographic data is very critical in the planning and provision of adequate electricity supply to the citizenry, lamenting that lack of proper planning has hampered the delivery of electricity in the country over the years.
According to him, it is important to know how many we are so as know how much power to provide, and the number of consumers to be supplied electricity. In addition, on the non-payment of outstanding debts owed Distribution Companies (DISCOs), the Minister assured his audience that government will offset these after proper verification, pointing out that the present administration had inherited accumulated debts prior to the privatisation exercise.
On the issue of metering, Fashola further stated that government has directed distribution companies to bridge the metering gap in the country, so as to end the estimated billings of consumers.
Looking forward, Fashola stated that the government is geared towards ensuring that everyone in the system gets paid, putting in place better governance and institutional frameworks, more sanctions for energy theft, ensuring better contract performance and sanctions for non-performance, as well as providing electricity access to rural dwellers
The Minister further revealed that the existing contracts for 2000 constituency electricity projects under the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) will soon be completed, adding that the government will be looking at expanding the generation, transmission and distribution aspect within the electricity value chain by encouraging more technical partners and other investors to come into the power sector and explore other energy resources in more secured environments in the country.
Etore E. Thomas
Deputy Director (Press)