The power sector is the heart of any nation’s development. Without electricity, there can be no real economic and technological progress. And in the case of Nigeria, it means that all those grand visions of becoming one of the world’s leading economies by 2020 will always remain a pipe dream. For several decades now, the country has been unable to add any substantial and sustainable capacity to its power generation.
Each successive government has come up with great plans to upgrade the power sector, but unfortunately they have remained empty rhetoric. All the money spent so far on the provision of electricity has gone down the drain. For example, the Mambilla power project has been in the pipeline for more than three decades, yet it remains a work in progress. The harm caused by the continued lack of power in Nigeria is incalculable.
More than 54 years after independence, all the country has to show for its power generation capacity is a measly 4,500 megawatts. And that is for a population of 170 million. Matters are not helped by the fact that Nigeria boasts abundant hydro, coal, solar, wind and fossil energy sources to generate abundant electricity for the citizens. For now, the country has become the proverbial land full of water, yet none to drink.
While the Federal Government has taken a first step to unbundle the power sector to allow for private sector participation, it is yet to encourage competent investors with the requisite technical competence into the industry. Moreover, we do not see why the power sector has transited from a monopoly to an oligopoly.
We believe that, in the true spirit of free market, the country must encourage different levels of power generation and distribution –large-scale, medium-scale and small-scale independent operators such that several companies can service states, and even local governments rather than the present massive and inefficient oligopolies that are compounding the power situation.
In truth, the country still operates a power monopoly that allows the Federal Government to remain the biggest investor.
Allowing more players into the industry would not only engender competition, but also attract those with the technical competencies to explore the energy mix to generate and supply electricity. The more investors, the better for the country.
Interestingly, many developed and developing countries have privatised their power industries with the attendant benefits to suppliers and consumers. What is lacking is the political will on the part of policy makers to solve once and for all the lingering power conundrum in the country.
The nation’s electricity consumption for the next 30 years should be anticipated and a sort of Marshall Plan put in place towards achieving it. The only way to doing this is by complete privatisation of electricity generation and supply in the country.