•EIB pledges financial support for new plant owners
THE Lagos State Governor, Raji Fashola, has opened up on some of the under-currents that stalled the Independent Power Project (IPP) which the state initiated some 13 years ago.
Meanwhile, the European Investment Bank has pledged to assist winners of the electricity utilities with funding support to ensure liquidity in the power sector post privatization.
Reviewing the IPP project when he delivered a paper as guest at the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) distinguished visitor’s programme, in Abuja on Tuesday, Fashola explained that needless political interference from the Federal Government was responsible for the hitches that cut the life of the project short. He also made copious reference to illegal deductions from the state allocations by the Federal Government under President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Speaking on the project with some kind of bitter nostalgia, the Governor noted: “Some of you may also recall that as far back as December 1999, barely six months into my illustrious predecessor’s first term as Governor, the Lagos State Government entered into a Power Purchase Agreement with Enron Nigeria Power Holding Limited to commence the first Independent Power Project undertaken by any State in the federation.
“Regrettably, the initiative suffered needless political interference and Lagos still bears the financial and economic scars for it. One can only imagine what type of Lagos and indeed Nigeria we would be living in today if 13 years ago, that project had been allowed to proceed as conceptualised.”
He added: “The level of development we would have attained; the volume of manufacturing and various types of economic activities that would be thriving today; the ideas and innovations thereof would have sprung out the type of enabling environment that constant power supply engenders. If only.”
He listed some of the challenges in the power sector to include limited access to infrastructure; low connection rates; inadequate power generation capacity; inefficient use of available capacity, lack of capital, ineffective regulation; high technical losses and vandalism; insufficient transmission and distribution facilities; inefficient use of electricity by consumers; inappropriate or ineffective industry and market structure; unclear delineation of roles and responsibilities.
“But they hardly resonate with the man on the street. At the end of the day, it all boils down to one thing – No light,” he noted
He listed conservation and preservation as a big threat to the ongoing electricity reform agenda.
He said: “I believe that in our drive towards service improvement in the provision of utilities, we have missed that critical aspect - the need for a value system built on conserving and preserving our utilities, which is in my view, a key component of our well-being and sustainable future.
“We all have a role to play in the efficient use of energy resources and the preservation of our energy infrastructure to save costs. I daresay that you will be overlooking one of your major responsibilities if you do not help Nigerians to develop a strong sense of ownership of public utilities. Indeed anything less will be akin to trying to fill a basket with water.”
He spoke of the ongoing efforts to provide electricity to government offices in Lagos.
His words: “The Alausa Power Project is currently under construction and once completed, will supply electricity to the heart of government in Lagos – The Alausa Secretariat. The Ikeja GRA IPP, which will power government establishments within the Old Secretariat amongst others, is currently at procurement stage. Through these power plants, we have witnessed vast improvements in our ability to deliver services to Lagos citizens, one of the most visible of which is in the area of in the area of public lighting.
“Last year for instance, the Lagos State Electricity Board added 50km of well-maintained public lighting to the existing extensive lighting network across Lagos. It is our target to light up our streets, bridges and public places to reduce security risks.”
European Investment Bank Loan Officer for West Africa, Roger Kelly, who spoke at a meeting with Minister of State Power, Zainab Ibrahim Kuchi in Abuja on Tuesday, stressed that the bank was eager to get involved in providing financing in light of reforms in the power sector.
Kuchi, who welcomed the offer by the bank, stressed that government’s statistics show that the nation would require a yearly investment of 3.5 billion yearly to generate about 40, 000 Mega Watts of electricity by the year 2020. She stressed that government could not solely provide the sum, as such, the invitation to the private to come on board.
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