Deficit in electricity: Setting agenda for Nigeria’s power sector to guide against policy somersault

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While Nigeria seeks development, it appears the necessary apparatuses to drive growth are not in capacious conditions to engineer the required impetus for such development to meaningfully take course. Among other growth driving parameters, power in Nigeria has over the years remained in the categorical state of inefficiency. The promise by successive administrations to address the deficiencies has over time appeared to be more of lip service, rather than subjects of evidence of concrete results to substantiate such claims of commitment.

While the efforts claimed to have been channeled to positioning the power sector in the Country have not proven substantial records of meaningful advancement, the fact that an assumed substitute for power for a development looking economy is not arguable, remains tenable. Hence, any Country envisioning industrialisation for a robust economy would definitely not take lightly, the profile of power sufficiency. It is noteworthy that the cost of looking and catering for alternative sources of electricity and the associated exorbitant billings have made the cost of production for several companies too high. The difficulty to break even with such cost have led to the closure of many manufacturing companies, whIle some still grappling with the challenges risk similar fate. The omen is by all means a capital threat to growth and development of the economy. It is indisputable that any economy bewildered with such sydrome is at the point of strangulation which practically makes growth difficult if not impossible.

The World Bank had on Monday in a report, titled ‘Universal Access to Sustainable Energy will Remain Elusive Without Addressing Inequalities,’ categorised Nigeria among the three Countries with the largest electricity deficits in the world. The Bank stated in the report that during the last decade, whIle a greater share of the global population gained access to electricity than ever before,  the number of people without electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa increased. In the report, Nigeria was also categorised among the top 20 Countries that lacked access to clean fuel and technologies for cooking. According to the report, to ensure no one is left behind, political commitment and financial incentives must be prioritised in all access-deficit Countries to achieve the universal target of SDG 7.

The reported had partly read: “Significant progress has been made since 2010 on various aspects of the Sustainable Development Goal 7, but progress has been unequal across regions. While more than one billion people gained access to electricity globally over the last decade, COVID’s financial impact has made basic electricity services unaffordable for 30 million more people, the majority located in Africa. Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia had the biggest electricity access deficits, with Ethiopia replacing India in the top three. Of the top 20 countries with greatest number of people lacking access to clean fuel and technologies for cooking, 10 are located in Sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, United Republic of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, Ghana, Niger).”

The categorisation of Nigeria among nations suffering from acute deficit in electricity is embarrassing to the Country from all angles of thoughts. The enormity of resources at the disposal of the Country is enough to justify that the infantile profile of the power sector is a reproach to the Country. It is evident from all sides that the Country has within her reachable advantage, potentials to develop a robust power sector with firm consistency, structured on the efficiency of multiple sources of power generation with unfailing system of transmission and distribution. However, the years of unjustifiable epilepsy of the power sector in Nigeria, only speaks to syndrome of poor administration and imprudent maximisation of resources to the best of possibilities through creative capacities.

It is reminiscent that one of the constructed pillars on which the campaign promises of the present administration was laid upon was the promise to revamp Nigeria’s economy, which as at 2015 was believed to be unwell. However, the prevailing situations as noted by observers appear to have worsened beyond the case of the past experience. It is indisputable that the pressure on the administration informed by clamour from the populace has risen to points of confusing heat. It is, however, important to state that achieving the reality of revamping the Nigerian Economy without paying attention to power is apparently a facade. The efforts deployed towards the sector by the present administration have not convincingly proven any pragmatic shift from the norms of past administrations. It is therefore essential for the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration as part of its direction towards fulfilling its campaign promises, to within the remaining less than two years period, pay optimum attention to galvanize appreciable efforts towards vitalising the power sector in the Country. Synchronising such efforts under architectures of robust policy formations on which future administrations can easily leverage and build upon is paramount. This is important to guide against the years of policy somersault which have ridden and debilitated the system over time.