Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said Nigeria could become one of the best power markets in the world by sustaining the significant strides made by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in the electricity sector, with increased investments and improvements in the value chain.
Osinbajo stated this, yesterday, in his remarks at the official commissioning of the 240 megawatts, Afam 3 Fast Power Project in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where he represented the president.
He said: “We have all the ingredients to create one of the best power markets in the world. I am also confident it will happen in our lifetime.
“The challenge before us now is for the industry to leverage the improved commercial environment that has been created to sustainably supply electricity and improve service to all citizens. This administration has made significant strides in this direction.”
Referencing the efforts of the administration in the sector, the vice president said: “The complete story is that in the past few years, we have seen more new money coming into the power value chain.
“These transactions include, Quest PLC that became core investor in Yola disco in 2020 with the transaction worth N19 billion. Last month, the National Council on Privatisation approved the 30-year concession on Zungeru Hydro Power Plant at $70 million a year. And overall, the story of the Nigerian electricity supply industry is also getting better.”
Vice president disclosed “Since 2020, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has executed all of its bi-annual review processes without fail,” recalling this was a marked difference from the past.
For instance, he said: “In 2019, subsidies reached a peak of N584 billion in an environment that was very burdensome on the Nigerian government’s fiscal position.
“Introduction of the Service Based Tariff, the Payment Discipline initiative for the sector (through NERC and CBN) and the introduction of the National Mass Metering programme have led to a doubling of market collections in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry from N40 billion per month in 2020 to a record of N80 billion per month in the 1st quarter of 2023.”
He also stated that in 2021 and 2022 “five under-performing DISCOs were brought into a restructuring programme that has led to a N10 billion per month reduction in shortfalls. If this trajectory continues, the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry will attain self-sufficiency by the end of 2023.”
Speaking further, the vice president noted that the Buhari administration has created programmes “for off-grid electrification and revamped the Rural Electrification Agency, such that it now has first rate capacity to provide renewable and off-grid electricity supply.
“This administration has also completed and concessioned the Zungeru hydroelectric power plant that will add 700 megawatts of renewable energy to our energy mix. We believe we are on track to electrify all Nigerians in the next decade as we look forward to the next administration scaling up already existing programmes.”
While commending the management of Transcorp Power PLC and other investors in the power sector, Osinbajo said the renewed interest came as a result of deliberate policies of government.
“The tide (inadequacy of investment) is turning with indigenous power entrepreneurs such as Transcorp Power, and Heirs Holding making significant investment such as this hundred per cent acquisition of the 966MW installed capacity Afam Power Plc and Afam 3 Fast Power Limited (jointly referred to as “Afam GenCo”), at an acquisition cost of N105.3 billion.
“Only yesterday, the National Council on Privatisation formally delisted Transcorp Power PLC (formerly known as Ughelli Power PLC) from routine Monitoring and Evaluation by the BPE, indicating yet another successful power investment.”
According to the vice president, “the last few days, I must say belong to Transcorp Power because at the same meeting of the NCP the council approved Transcorp Power consortium as preferred bidder for the acquisition of the Abuja DISCO.”
Besides Transcorp Power, the vice president commended the efforts of “the Rivers State government and the Afam paramount ruler and communities adjoining Afam for working constructively with the power companies to ensure continued peace and security in the Afam cluster, without which we wouldn’t be here today commissioning this project.”
Earlier, Rivers State Head of Service, Rufus Godwin, who represented Governor Nyesom Wike, thanked the vice president for his love and commitment for the wellbeing of Rivers people and Nigerians at large, stating that “the vice president has become a son of Rivers and is welcome to the state anytime.”
He equally thanked the Federal Government for Afam Power Project, noting that besides being host to a number of Federal Government projects, “Rivers State is a business hub in the country and contributes 40 per cent of electricity to the country.”
In the same vein, the group Chairman of Transcorp Plc., Tony Elumelu, praised the Federal Government, President Buhari and Osinbajo for their unflinching support to the power sector and for seeing to the completion of Afam Power Project.
President of General Electric in Nigeria, Muhammed Mijindadi, recalled how on some difficult occasions in the process of delivering the project, the US-based company sought the quick interventions of the vice president.
“The vice president promptly intervened several times,” he disclosed, adding there were times when things were proving rather difficult.
General Electric supplied the mobile power generating equipment to the Afam 3 Power Plant, provided the electrical balance, installation, commissioning services and training to the plant operators..