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Estimated electricity billing not acceptable – El-Rufai

FORMER Governor of Kaduna State and a Ministerial nominee, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, said estimated billing is not acceptable, insisting that every household and business must be metered in a privatised electricity market.

The former Governor, whom many have tipped to be Nigeria’s next Minister of Power, made this submission on Tuesday, August 1, 2023, while he fielded questions at the ongoing stage Senate’s Ministerial screening exercise.

Nigeria’s Power sector has been going through numerous challenges, with its value chain of Generation, Transmission and Distribution accessing many interventions from the World Bank despite privatisation.

The former Governor also regretted that the federal government has spent more than N1.6 trillion naira intervening in the power sector, post-privatisation, due to illiquidity in the sector.

He also explained that such illiquidity would be largely addressed when people are properly metered and pay for a cost-reflective tariff.

“Without electricity, Industrialisation and even agriculture is a pipe dream. The president is committed to a stable power supply and has asked me to work with him.”

Further in his remarks, the former Kaduna State governor said Nigeria has about 13,000 megawatts of installed generation capacity but regretted that it could only produce between 4000 and 5000 megawatts for the national grid power.

Suggesting a way forward, he said, “The first step is to look at what is constraining the full production of the 13,000 megawatts of electricity that we have in installed generation capacity. Many of the generation stations cannot produce because of a poor supply of gas.

“Eighty per cent of our generation is from gas, and the balance is hydro. The gas-fired stations often don’t have a supply of gas. There are power stations that have been completed two or three years ago, and have produced nothing because there is no supply of gas.”

He explained the importance of effective collaboration of gas supply to power plants while stressing its importance in sorting the disconnect for improved power supply to consumers.

“We must ensure that gas and power are under one roof to address these issues, I have mentioned.

“Even if we are able to produce 13,000 megawatts today, our transmission infrastructure can only do may be between 5000- 6000 megawatts,” the former Governor said.

He also emphasised that Nigeria needs to close the gap in its transmission system to avoid recurrent grid collapse while stressing the importance of removing politics from transmission procurement to encourage successful power transmission.

The former governor noted that despite power sector privatisation, the government, in one way or the other keep subsidising electricity, which he said is no longer sustainable.

“The DisCos, about five of them, are under receivership because those of them who borrowed from the banks are not repaying, and the banks have taken over five or six of them,” he said.

He also disclosed that the last time a stress test was done on the DisCos, only but three of them, out of eleven, did well.

“There’s a lot of work to be done on the distribution since it is the last end of the value chain, and if they don collect money and don’t have enough metering, they would not be able to pay for Power supply by the generation companies.

“This is why the government now pays; otherwise, they will invoke a partial risk guarantee signed with the government. These problems need to be addressed.”

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Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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