From Anietie Akpan, Calabar
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
FOR erratic power supply to become a thing of the past in the country, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) will need a sum of N3 trillion.
Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Ransome Owan gave the figure in Calabar the Cross River State capital shortly after the commissioning of the Presidential Retreat and International Conference Centre at the Obudu Ranch Resort by President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.
"We need N3 trillion investments for the country to have improved power supply. The country will have vast improvement with such injection of money. I am happy to report that as of today, we have granted licenses to 21 companies that are going to generate over 8,200 megawatts", he said.
According to Owan, the electricity sector in the country is undergoing tremendous changes for the collective interest of the nation. He noted that the Commission is working hard to ensure that electricity is made affordable.
The NERC chairman said since the Federal Government alone could not take up the responsibility on account of scarcity of funds, it had entered into partnership with the private sector and had also created an enabling environment to partner with the Independent Power Plant (IPP).
"Right now, the national budget is about N2 trillion. The power sector alone can easily take that on any given day", he said adding, "so it is critical that those private investors come in and invest in the energy sector of the nation's economy".
Owan added: "We have what we call suppressed demand in the country, that is, the demand for power as a country is more than the supply of power. Experts tell us that today we can use up to 14,000 to 15,000 megawatts, but our capacity to generate is about 4,000 megawatts. The demand is so high that anybody can build a power plant today. We can buy all the power".
He said the efforts of government towards ensuring regular power supply in the country had the granting of license to 21 companies to produce the required 8,200 megawatts.
"One of the companies, Geometric in Aba , Abia State would perform its ground breaking ceremony on November 1, kicking off with the construction of an Independent Power Plant".
Some of the problems towards having regular power supply in the country, he noted, include weak distribution points, non-overhauling of the power plants for over 20 years and paucity of funds.
According to Owan, it a typical power plant of 200 to 300 megawatts requires at least two to three years as the gestation period.
The NERC chief was however optimistic that with all the requirements in place, the problem of blackouts in the country would soon become a thing of the past.