To promote commercial viability and further investment in the power sector, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), in 2015, announced a 45 per cent tariff increase, designed to come into effect on February 01, 2016, which was nullified by a decision of a federal high court.
Although the organized labourhailed the decision of the court, others, mostly energy industry practitioners, criticized it. To the former, the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) should improve its performance before considering a tariff increase. And to the later, an improved electricity supply hinges on the implementation of cost-reflective tariffs.
After about five days, NERC approved increase in electricity tariff by the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) in the country. “The new tariff regime takes effect from January 1, 2020”.
This time consumers may have appeared to be silent, yet asking a loudly quiet question; “is it about tariff increase or quality service delivery?”. Consumers no doubt appreciate the challenges of the power generators and distributors, but those challenges would go noticed when no quality service is dispensed to the consumers at the end of the day.
The consequences of this abysmal service delivery for Nigeria’s economic development are well-understood, and the causes of the deplorable situation are laid bare, it is still not certain which way to take, out of the problem.
Everyone knows that shortages in electricity supply, are significantly impeding Nigeria’s economic growth. OlayinkaOyedepo (2012), in his work on “Energy, Sustainability and Society”, stated that about 60 to 70 percent of the Nigerian population does not have access to electricity.
Suffice it to say that while some parts of the country have little or no access to the national grid, in other areas, electricity is only available for short and varying periods of the day.
This ongoing failure of the Nigerian power sector to provide adequate electricity supply to domestic households and industrial producers has not only contributed in crippling the agricultural, industrial and mining sectors, it daily impedes the country’s economic development.
There is no doubt that the present power crisis afflicting Nigeria will persist unless the government diversifies the energy sources in domestic, commercial and industrial sectors and adopts new available technologies to reduce energy wastage and to save cost.
The writer is of the view that given the fundamental nature of electricity to the socio-economic development of Nigeria and poverty eradication, nothing short of access to modern energy services which though had remained an enormous challenge facing the African continent, can suffix.
Although from an economic point of view, implementing the country’s renewable energy target will have significant costs, nevertheless, its contribution to the sustainability of economic, environmental and social development of our country; Nigeria, far outweighs its cost.
Recall that way back in 2005, the Energy Commission of Nigeria developed a Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP) which suggested ideas for renewable energy policies, as well as possible technologies that could be used to fulfill their goals. Nigeria’s target, at that point, was to expand her energy access to 90 percent of the population by the year 2030.
With the above projection, the expectation was that 30 percent of the total energy generation would be solely from renewable sources, a course which, if well executed, will not only regularise power supply in the country, but will reduce significantly the energy bills for poor households.
Since 2005, Nigerian power reforms have focused on privatizing the generation and distribution assets as well as encouraging private investments in the power sector generally, while government retained the power to control transmission assets and creating a regulatory environment attractive to foreign investors.
This conscious effort in this direction actually robbed off on Nigeria’s primary energy consumption which came up to about 108 MW in 2011. According to official report, most of the energy came from traditional biomass and waste, which accounted for 83 percent of total primary production. The rest was from fossil fuels (16 percent) and hydropower (1 percent).
Midway into the projected year 2030, renewable energy penetration in Nigeria is still in its nascent stage. Until late, Nigeria generates a small amount of energy from renewable sources. The only source of renewable energy in the country is hydro-power and biomass; wind and solar energy have only been deployed in a minuscule amount.
However, with emerging energy policies and initiatives, wind and solar energy generation projects are gradually being planned throughout the country. With the discovery of their high potentials and benefits for Nigeria’s environment and society, developments in solar and wind energy are gradually increasing.
In February 2018, Nigeria completed the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Project, which supplied about 261,938 citizens with clean renewable energy. This project was in partnership with USAID, private donors, government agencies, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations. The goal of the project was to build connections to 2.5 MW of power through off and on grid sources, which will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 4.5 million metric tons.
Nigeria no doubt, has the potential to generate most of its energy through solar. After all, most of the big cities in Nigeria (Lagos, Abuja, Benin City, Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Kano) now power their street lighting with solar energy through state beautification projects.
Two years ago, the Lagos State Government signed a contract with UK- based Low Energy Designs for the supply and installation of energy efficient streetlights. The project covered about 300 km of road. The $6.9 million contract included the provision of an intelligent control system for real time operation of the LED streetlights.
The World Bank’s loan to Nigeria to build a solar power grid by 2023 that will help generate power for hospitals, rural areas, schools and households, should be a stepping stone for the government to diversify its energy source for other sectors.
Apart from reducing overall energy consumption, lowering carbon emissions, solar lighting technology allows the customer to be in control of light intensity. Moreso, the ability to remotely monitor operations is expected to reduce maintenance costs.
With lighting manufacturers virtually non-existent in Nigeria, we can still push to the next level, revolutionize the energy market and increase sustainability for the future in Nigeria by partnering with recognized established local companies to manufacture low energy design lighting’s.
By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi
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