Nigeria's power problem and vision 2020 agenda

Jul 11, 2010 02:00 AM

by Gloria Ezeiru

Vision 2020 is an economic blueprint designed towards making Nigeria one of the 20 most industrialised nations in the world by the year 2020. Nigeria's quest to becoming one of the 20 most industrialised nations by the year 2020 may become a mirage unless there is adequate power supply evenly distributed to boost economic and industrial activities across the country.
This is because the critical components to guarantee a quantum leap in economic growth especially in the industrial sector rely heavily on low cost power to survive and flourish.

While most mega manufacturing industries in the country have closed shop or are operating far below production capacity, small and medium scale entrepreneurship, which is one of the major ingredient to stimulate wide spread growth in the economy, is being choked by lack of affordable power supply.
Presently, the 6,000 MW energy promised by federal government is very far from being achieved and this is taking a heavy toll on medium and small scale investments in the country. With about 3,000 MW being generated at the moment, investors are now forced to spend heavily on diesel and petrol to power their generators which often break down due to over use. Cost of generators and spare parts are also on the increase due to high demand, making it even difficult for small and medium capital to afford them.

The implication on the economy cannot be over exaggerated as it is taking its toll in various circle of the economy. Service and product providers are forced to charge higher to meet the high cost of production. This, leads to gradual loss of patronage resulting, in multiple loss and eventual closure of business. The end product is massive job losses and hardship in the country.
Currently, there is huge business, capital and manpower flight from the country to other neighbouring countries such as Ghana, which has taken a giant step to address its energy need. This has led to huge losses in the nation's revenue, and important requirements to achieving the nation's quest for massive infrastructural development.

The situation is lamentable with the closure of manufacturing industries such as the Kaduna textile mill. Such closure causes huge job loss ranging from the direct workers to those providing support services to such industries.
Massive job losses affect purchasing power, which in turn affects other businesses that depend on the eroded ability of the sacked worker to patronise. The result is a chain of dwindling fortune in the overall economy.

The desired growth in infrastructural development and better living condition in the country is eroded as there are fewer engagements in scientific researches. It has also affected various aspect of life. Researches in food and product storage, domestic and office appliances, agricultural technology and so on, are no longer encouraged due to lack of adequate power supply.
Even in homes, families lose valuable resources owing to lack of power for food storage. This brings about huge spending to power generators and economic losses due to constant movements to markets or farms for fresh food. Even in the market and farms, valuable produces are lost due to lack of adequate power to facilitate storage and this is one of the factors responsible for food insecurity in the country.

The list is endless. However, it is disheartening that successive administrations in the country have continued to pay lip service to the issue of power. In the last eleven years, billions of naira have been invested into the sector with no improvement in power supply. No account has been rendered in that direction. Every year, new appropriations are made and the situation remains the same.
It was therefore heart-warming when President Goodluck Jonathan, on assumption of full responsibility as president, took up the issue of power with the vigour it required by composing a new structure of power reform to find solution to the nation's power problem.

The new structure is to be driven by the Presidential Action Committee on Power chaired by him and supported by a Presidential Task Force on Power. The Presidential Action Committee will provide leadership and guidance for the development of the sector and determine the general policy direction and strategic focus of the ongoing power reform.
This committee has Vice-President Namadi Sambo as alternate chairman and its other members include the Minister of State for Power, the Ministers of Finance, National Planning and Petroleum Resources, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Head of Service, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Special Adviser to the President on Power and Chief of Staff to the President.

The Presidential Task Force, on the other hand, is charged with developing and driving the action plan for the nation's power sector with achievable targets within the lifespan of the present regime. It will also articulate a proper plan of action for implementation in the areas of power generation, transmission distribution as well as all issues regarding power sector reform.
The taskforce will report to the President and the Presidential Action Committee on a regular basis. The Presidential Task Force is to be chaired by the Special Adviser to the President on Power, Prof. Berth Nnaji.

Stakeholders are optimistic that at the completion of their assignment, President Jonathan will summon the political will to address the power problem with all the seriousness it requires. This is because solving the power problem is a major achievement in the overall quest by the government and people of Nigeria for massive infrastructural and industrial development of the country.
There is the need also, for investments in the use of alternative energy such as solar and inverter systems, especially in the rural areas and other places with low power consumption. Arrangements can also be perfected to make such alternative power source available to economic institutions such as farms to boost their activities at very low rates.

Government must therefore, in the next ten months, take the issue of power as a matter of priority. Given their resilience even in the use of generators for power despite the high cost, it is evident that Nigerians are willing to pay for electricity when made stable.
It is therefore expected that government should perfect the generation, transmission and distribution system to ensure even supply of power in the country to pave way for massive economic growth in the interest of all.

Source / Leadership
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