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Stakeholders envisage improvement in electricity supply

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Key stakeholders in the electricity industry have predicted an enhanced inclusive growth, economic competitive indexes after President Muhammadu Buhari assented to 16 constitution alteration bills.

The signed bills include devolving more power to state governments, especially granting them autonomy to generate electricity, a move that will break the monopoly of the federal government in power generation, transmission and distribution.

Speaking exclusively with LEADERSHIP, former ministers of power, Professor Barth Nnaji and Dr. Olu Agunloye, said the country would now begin to see huge investment in power generation and the much anticipated competition in the industry.

Nnaji said that states like Lagos, Rivers and Akwa Ibom that had spearheaded the drive for autonomous power structures would substantively create better opportunities and environment that will drive economic growth.

The former minister said states would no longer apply for licences to generate own power and they would now have the latitude to regulate generation, distribution and transmission, adding that they would now have the opportunity to create end-to-end alternative power transmission lines.

He, however, stated that states that are not liquid enough will have challenges raising the required capital to invest in the sector, stating that it will cost about $150-$200 million to develop a 100 Megawatts power generation plant.

Nnaji did not see conflict in regulations, as he said the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, would oversee the national grid system while the state’s electricity regulatory bodies will regulate activities at the state level.

This, he said, will enable interswitch opportunities that will reduce outages frequently triggered by grid system collapse.

On his part, Dr. Agunloye applauded the move, saying it will help liberalise the industry.

Agunloye said that while he was minister, he pursued the policy of throwing the market open but the system did not allow devolution of power to states.

He said what the nation had yearned to implement when the late former minister of power, Bola Ige, and Segun Agagu, took up the responsibility to drive privatisation is now about to thrive.

On his part, the president, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, Kunle Kola Olubiyo, described the constitutional alterations as unprecedentedly a bold and right step in the right direction.

Olubiyo, former member, Presidential Ad-hoc Committee on Review of Electricity Tariff in Nigeria, pointed out that the over concentration of power and management of natural resources cum economic activities in the hand of the federal government, particularly in areas where the 36 states could do better, had over the years stifled competition.

He said, “The recent development would no doubt enhance inclusive growth, upscale global economic competitive indexes, break the monopoly of the federal government in power generation, transmission and distribution, rail transport system, upstakes end users customers right to choices/ alternatives while at the same time strengthen cash inflow from foreign direct investment (FDIs).”

He also said it will also partly fulfill the aspirations and yearnings of the quest for resource control and true federalism.

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