Nigeria to restructure power sector, improve supply

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

Nigeria's Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

The Nigerian government is in discussion with stakeholders to seek for ways of restructuring the power sector to attract more investments and improve power supply in Nigeria.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday at the Lagos Business School Breakfast Meeting in Abuja, where he spoke extensively on what the Next Level of the President Buhari administration has in store for Nigerians.

Prof. Osinbajo said that the hint to where government was going was the improvement of what he described as “eligible customer type of situation as a willing buyer, willing seller.”

He said: “There is no question at all that we cannot continue in the same old ways where discos control territory that they cannot service.  There’s no way that is going to continue.

“I think that what the discos will argue, and what also we have to accept, is that we really have to have a cost-effective tariffs one way or the other.

“The way it has worked in the experiments we have seen and what we have done is, for example, what we call the energizing economies projects that we have done where we have enabled private power in markets.”

Power Projects
The vice president said the private power projects have been executed in the Sabon Gari Market, Kano; the Ariaria Market, Aba; the Sura Market, Lagos and in Ondo State.

According Prof. Osinbajo, the arrangements enables the private power supplier to provide power at an agreed cost-effective tariff to shop owners and businesses.

The vice president said the current regulatory framework of the power sector in Nigeria has to take cognizance of this model of power supply.

“I think the current regulatory structure just has to accommodate the realities and we have got to make sure that we move ahead.

“Otherwise, we are going to have ourselves as we are at the moment regulating 4000 megawatts of power for the next four years, which obviously is a disaster.

“We can’t sit here complaining about some people who are complaining power and saying we cancel the licenses of people who are providing power. It’s not going to work.”

More Investment
Vice President Osinbajo said the federal government was also working to attract more investments in the gas sector.

On industrialization, Professor Osinbajo said government’s plan was to develop Special Economic Zones across the country.

 “The whole idea is to have these special places where we can focus attention on creating conducive atmosphere for processing, manufacturing and industrialization.

“Here is what we hope to be a private, public partnership, but government is spending most of its own resources on actually building infrastructure,” the vice president stated, adding that it was the intention of government to ensure that businesses in the Special Economic Zones environment that will enable them to their capacity.

He said that economic zones are being built in Lagos, Aba, Katsina and other places.

Explaining further, Prof. Osinbajo said that there were also plans to enhance infrastructure in small, medium and large industrial clusters that are already in existence across Nigeria.

He said government was looking at the leather hubs in Aba, Abia State; Ogidi, Anambra State and Kano as well as iron works and fabrication clusters in Nnewi, Anambra State and in Bauchi.

“The whole point is that we want to make sure that where we have existing economic clusters, we go in there to assist with power and other infrastructural needs that they may have there.

“So, we are not necessarily creating new zones or new clusters but enhancing those that we have so that they can be much more productive.”

Vice President Osinbajo also spoke on human capital development in the Next Level of the Buhari administration, especially as concerns education and health, saying that Nigeria would have a problem if something drastic was not done about them.

He said that the federal government and the states were looking at how to enforce the nine-year free and compulsory education in Nigeria.

“This is a policy of the federal government and we believe that must be enforced, especially because we know that this is the critical years of the child’s life,” he said.

The vice president said this was also geared towards ensuring that the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria is reduced.

Digital Literacy
According to him, the federal government’s policy on education also involves the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics programme, which would deal with the whole question of teacher training for digital literacy.

“We expect that in this era of digital literacy, where most of the opportunities are going to come from and we think we can leap frog, we really must emphasize digital literacy skills.”

Professor Osinbajo also spoke on the expansion of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programme, saying the components, including the N-Power, the Home Grown School Feeding Programme, the Conditional Cash Transfer and the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme, would be expanded to accommodate more Nigerians.

Earlier, the Adjunct Faculty, Lagos Business School, Dr. Doyin Salami, spoke on the areas where government should work in the next four years for the growth of the economy.

According to him, this would include boosting productivity, developing markets and enhancing the country’s security situation.

Dr. Salami said the Next Level must speak to the future of an economy that in the next ten years must become a middle income country.