Nigeria sets new target for power industry

11 March 2004 – Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday directed the Nigeria Electric Power Authority (NEPA) to strive to achieve the 10 000 MW target set for it by 2007. Speaking after a presentation of NEPA’s Action Plan on its turnaround by Power and Steel Minister Liyel Imoke, Obasanjo said that one of the ways to make NEPA work was to attract private sector investment to the organization.

He said that just as NEPA must ensure regular and scheduled maintenance of its plants, equipment and checking the activities of vandals, it must also encourage the development of other sources of power, such as wind and solar energy in rural areas.

After the presentation, Imoke told reporters that specifically speaking, the road map for the power sector was initiated to get NEPA working optimally by 2010.

He said that the program to be backed by the electric power sector reform bill currently before the National Assembly, embraces “everything that will make NEPA work and deliver to the nation.”

He said that privatization was one aspect of the planned reform in the power sector which, he said, must include other key elements in order to make NEPA efficient and productive.

The minister said that in the area of billing alone where consumers owed NEPA well over 50 billion naira (about $370m), a lot of improvements were needed by the billing and collection machinery.

Although only about 1200 MW was being generated in 1999, the Nigerian federal government improved the figure to about 4000 MW by 2003.

However, not much impact was felt by consumers on the increase and this was attributed to poor distribution as a result of aging power networks and transformers.

Imoke, who was at the time special adviser to President Obasanjo on utilities, was saddled with the responsibility of turning around NEPA under a special arrangement which made him chairman of NEPA’s technical board with the assigned special task of turning around NEPA.

As the minister presented his plan to revive NEPA to President Obasanjo, the authority issued a statement, saying the planned maintenance work by the Nigeria Gas Company (NGC) on its Chevron Escravos gas pipeline would affect its power generation.

The maintenance work and upgrade scheduled for March 11-17 and April 14-26 this year would lead to a shortfall of about 1000 MW of power generation.

NEPA presently generates about 4000 MW nationwide a year, far from meeting the needs of the most populous African country with a population of over 130 million.