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Solar, Not Major Source of Power – Minister

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Laner Babalola, Minister of Power has revealed that the government was not seriously looking at solar as a major source of power supply; “solar provides an insignificant portion of the power needs of countries and would not be explored as a major power option in Nigeria”, Babalola said. According to the minister, the landmass required for solar power generation, the cost involved and the quality of light produced are major challenges.

Solar panels are best for the few houses surrounding each, solar light is not as efficient as other sources of light, solar is not very bright for mass use. Moreover, the equipment needed to trap the light are not everlasting. In the places where we have seen solar in use across the world, they are not a major solution to power supply”, he stated. In this place, he continued solar provides an insignificant one percent of total power requirement. To generate 2000MW of electricity from solar, you need a landmass of about 65 square kilometers, twice the size of Abuja to install panels, landmass is a major issue in solar power generation.

The minister was speaking while being conducted round the facilities of the Guregu power plant, Kogi State.

The Guregu power plant, Kogi State is plagued with gas supply crisis which could further undermine the government’s 600mw power generation target.

The government, according to the minister has given the managers of the stations up to this year end to solve its gas supply issue once and for all, stressing that government would no longer sit back and allow its power plants rot away because of gas supply crisis.

The minister advised that they should start looking at the gas issue from a different perspective, adding that the target should aim at sorting out the gas issue and get the plant to perform to full capacity. “If you don’t have a good framework in place, Geregu would just be a wasting asset. Get this done between now and December, if there is anything that we in Abuja need to do, please let us know quickly”, he remarked.

It would be recalled that the construction of Geregu 414mw gas turbine plants comprising a total of 3X 138mw simple cycle siemens V94.2 gas turbine units was completed in 2006, commissioned in February 2007 and went into operation in June 2007.

Gas has remained an issue with the station, which has hardly produced above 100mw since inception.

According to Mr. Monima Stanley-Idum, Head of Station at Geregu power station, all the three units are available but due mainly to gas supply constraints present generation is limited to serving an Island part of Kogi, Ondo, Delta and Edo States for one unit with a maximum load of 100MW, utilising an average of 25 million standard cubic feet per day. The gas supply for the 114mw capacity of the plant is put at 105 million standard cubic feet per day. He assured however, that the three units will contribute a minimum of 350mw towards the 6000mw target in December, were we are tied to the national grid. The challenges we face in spite of our 100 per cent availability are the issues of grid stability, commensurate with the design of the plant to utilise the maximum capacity of the plant and shortage in gas supply coupled with inadequate staff housing. Another issue plaguing the plant, it was gathered is the inability of government to upgrade the 30MVA transmission station at Ajaokuta to 60MVA to aid transmission of power generation from the plant.

 On the current power generation, Babalola stressed that 3500mw was currently being generated, transmitted and distributed. He assured that the system would ensure that 6000MW of electricity exist and is available by the end of December 2009.

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Lawmakers Want CBN To Halt Naira Devaluation

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The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), to urgently put in place a policy to check further devaluation of the naira to the United States dollar and other international legal tenders.
The House decried that while the Nigerian currency was losing value, others in Africa were appreciating.
At the plenary on Wednesday, the House unanimously adopted a motion moved by the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Pensions, Mr Bamidele Salam, which warned the CBN of the implications of further devaluing the naira.
The motion was titled, ‘Matter of urgent public importance on the need for the Central Bank of Nigeria to urgently put in place monetary policies to stop the free fall of the naira against the dollar and other international legal tenders’.
Salam recalled that the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, while addressing the Bankers’ Committee at a summit on the economy in Lagos earlier in February, informed the committee about the naira devaluation against the dollar.
The lawmaker also quoted Emefiele as saying at the summit that the official exchange rate stood at N410 to the dollar.
“That is 7.6 per cent weaker than the rate of N379 published on the central bank’s website,” Salam noted.
According to the lawmaker, while the value of the naira relative to the dollar had declined by nine per cent in the last six months, the South African rand and Ghanaian cedi had appreciated by 11.4 per cent and one per cent, respectively.
Salam also recalled that the CBN adopted multiple exchange rates in 2020, in a bid to avoid an outright devaluation. 
He noted that the official rate used as a basis for budget preparation and other official transactions differed from a closely controlled exchange rate for investors and exporters known as the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing Methodology.
He stressed that the naira had traded in a tight range between N400 and N410, while the NAFEX rate was different from the parallel market, considered illegal by the CBN, where the naira closed at 502.
Salam said, “The House is concerned that devaluation is likely to cause inflation because imports will be more expensive any imported goods or raw material will increase in price; aggregate demand increases, causing demand-pull inflation. Firms/exporters have less incentive to cut costs because they can rely on the devaluation to improve competitiveness.
 ”The concern is that the long-term devaluation may lead to lower productivity because of the decline in incentives.
 ”The House is further concerned that devaluation of the naira makes it more difficult for Nigerian youths especially in the IT sector, whose businesses are online and must necessarily transact businesses in the US dollars. 
“It also reduces real wages. In a period of low wage growth, a devaluation that causes rising import prices will make consumers feel worse off “.

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Four West African Countries To Buy Nigeria’s Unutilised Electricity

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Four West African countries, Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso, are collaborating to buy the unutilised power produced in Nigeria. 
The Chairman of the Executive Board of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), Sule Abdulaziz, disclosed this at the WAPP meeting on the North core project in Abuja, on Wednesday. 
Abdulaziz, who is also the acting Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), said the four countries were collaborating to make the power purchase from Nigeria through the North core Power Transmission Line currently being built.
He explained, “The power we will be selling is the power that is not needed in Nigeria.
“The electricity generators that are going to supply power to this transmission line are going to generate that power specifically for this project. So, it is unutilised power”.
He said Nigeria was expecting new generators to participate in the energy export for the 875km 330KV Northcore transmission line from Nigeria through Niger, Togo, Benin to Burkina Faso.
Abdulaziz said, “In addition, there are some communities that are under the line route, about 611 of them, which will be getting power so that there won’t be just a transmission line passing without impact”.
The WAPP chairman noted that the project, funded by World Bank, French Development Council and the African Development Bank, had recorded progress, adding that the energy ministers would be addressing security issues for the project at another meeting in Abuja.
He said, “Nigeria has the greatest advantage among these countries because the electricity is going to be exported from Nigerian Gencos (generation companies). 
“So, from that, the revenue is going to be enhanced and a lot of people will be employed in Nigeria”.
The Secretary-General, WAPP, Siengui Appolinaire-Ki, said the cost of the project was about $570 million, adding that part of the investment in each country would be funded by that particular nation.
According to him, the countries in the partnership, including Nigeria, are also being supported by donors.
He said the funding agreement was ready as partner countries were awaiting the disbursements.
Appolinaire-Ki, however, said the donor agencies had said they needed a Power Purchase Agreement between the buying and the selling countries to be executed before releasing the fund.

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Reps Probe N275bn Agric Loans Under Yar’Adua, Jonathan, Buhari

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The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate the disbursement of loans and credit facilities by the Federal Government in the agriculture sector since 2009.
The period under review covers the administrations of the late Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan as well as the present President, Muhammadu Buhari.
The resolution was sequel to the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Chike Okafor at the plenary last Wednesday, titled ‘Need to investigate disbursements of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date to enhance national food security’. 
Okafor said, from 2009 to date, the Federal Government had approved the disbursement of funds to farmers in various schemes to the tune of over N275billion, ranging from Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme to the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, to help farmers improve agricultural production and guarantee food security in Nigeria.
The lawmaker also noted that apart from increasing food supply, the schemes were to grant agricultural loans to large and small-scale commercial farmers to lower the prices of agricultural produce, generate employment and increase foreign exchange earnings.
He said, “The House is aware that since the approval, most farmers have not been able to access the loans due to stringent requirements being demanded by banks from prospective borrowers and the alleged siphoning of over N105billion meant for farmers by management of NIRSAL.
“The House is concerned that food production has not attained the expected level, despite the approval of over N275billion facilities to farmers. 
“The House is worried that the projected diversification of the economy from oil production to agricultural production and increase in agricultural output, food supply and promoting low food inflation will not be achieved if farmers are unable to access loans meant to increase agricultural production”.
Adopting the motion, the House resolved to mandate the Committee on Banking and Currency to “investigate disbursements and compliance of all agricultural loans/credit facilities to farmers from 2009 to date to enhance national food security in the country”.

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