Business leaders in the country have said there can be no meaningful industrialisation in Nigeria without improved power generation in the country. Oando Group Plc
This was contained in a statement signed by Oando Group Plc CEO, Mr Adewale Tinubu, and made available to newsman in Lagos on Wednesday.
According to Mr Tinubu, Africa is “potentially the largest power market in the world”, based on available resources and demand for electricity.
The statement said that Nigeria’s power sector was one of the key issues discussed at World Economic Forum on Africa, held in Kigali, Rwanda in May.
According to the statement, speakers on different panels spoke on how power shortages affect their businesses, while players in the energy industry deliberated on the challenges, opportunities, and trends.
Tinubu said that, “We are losing a wonderful opportunity to leapfrog out of poverty by not having a more sustainable or robust energy policy”.
“I think without a doubt, the biggest challenge we have to economic growth is really our poor consumption of energy, and invariably our very expensive consumption of energy. We are never going to become an exporting country and continent until we lower our cost of energy and we take advantage of these different [energy] sources.”
Although there has been some momentum in developing power projects in recent years, sub-Saharan Africa still has a long way to go with hundreds of millions of people not having access to grid-connected electricity.
Tinubu noted that the private sector can play a significant role in power generation only if there is a friendly business environment.
He gave the example of Nigeria that has become reliant on private diesel generators, which are pricier to operate compared to industrial power.
“What was missing was having an enabling environment, which the government has finally realised and has privatised the power system, liberalised tariffs and in the process we are now seeing the private sector getting involved in building new power plants, and we are now attracting global capital.
“The difference is that power is now seen as a business opportunity for investors to make a return,” said Tinubu.
“People now have access to cheaper power than when the government was subsidising and [was] unable to meet that demand.”
Oando boss suggested the development of more regional mega-projects in the continent.
Mr Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), noted Africa “cannot industrialise” without improving power generation capacity.
According to John Rice, vice chairman of General Electric, there are some well-intentioned initiatives geared towards meeting the energy gaps, but challenges related to financing, bureaucracy, traditional risk analysis, and decision-making based on election cycles have led to delays.
AfDB boss Adesina noted that over the next decade Africa must strive to attain “universal access to electricity”.
“We have got to be so impatient with moving Africa forward relentlessly – we have no choice. In 2025, there is absolutely no reason why Africa should not be totally lit up with the power it needs to industrialise, because we must not forget no economy ever develops unless you have the base load power to drive industries and be competitive,” said Adesina