Lagos State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources Mr. Olawale Oluwo in this interview with journalists during a press briefing outlines the objectives of the light up Lagos project, connection of rural areas to the national grid and other sundry issues. Excerpts.
What is the motive behind gov-ernment’s inter-vention in power supply in Lagos State?
We have bureaucracy that is disturbing the operations of the private power companies; and so the state government wants to help them with the policy and that’s what this partnership is all about. So. I am pleased to inform you that the Light up Lagos advisory committee at the apex level has chief executives of major stakeholders in the power sector, These are the people that will take Lagos to the basic destination of power supply at the end of the year. We have the chairmen of companies , managing directors of various companies and executive directors of IKeja and Eko Discos. They are members, we have the managing director and the chairman of Lekki power plant representing GENCO, both of them are members. Then, we have both the general manager and the second in command of the Transmission Company of Nigeria in Lagos as member and also we have managing director and executive directors of Oando Gas and power as supplier of gas .So what we have really is a platform that brings everybody together so that we can all work as one in order to make sure that Lagos gets to her destination. On the side of the government, we have the commissioner for information, the commissioner for energy and mineral resources. We also have the attorney general of the state and the significance of having the attorney general is the fact that many endorsement issues are involved in this process because we heard people by pass meters, we have people connecting illegally, a lot of power theft going on in the system . These are areas that government can really be of help to those who will provide power within Lagos state..
Can you explain details of Light up Lagos ?
The concept of Light up Lagos is divided into about six stages.
We have the power advisory committee which I just talked about and we have five independent power plants which we have been doing before at Lekki, Berger, Alausa and Agege. So, what this means is that the state is now moving away from the concept of inaugurating IPP that will provide power to the state to provision of power for the people through the private sector. I think that the message here today is that Lagos is moving away from providing power to itself, institutions and parastatals to working with stakeholders so as to ensure power is provided for the people. Then, for the state light up project which is the second stage, we have a programme we are following in making sure we deliver on that. The idea is to make sure that all the lights in the streets of Lagos are put together under one basket because street lights used to be scattered where we have almost like nine agencies of government coordinating various electricity projects which made the management very difficult. For instance, we have Lagos state Electricity board that is managing electricity, Lagos state ministry of works, LAMATA, New Town Development Authority and local government councils. Even at the federal level, we have Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) managing all the state lights at the airports, FERMA which powers the state light on third mainland bridge , Oshodi and the Tin Can and the rest of them. Then, we also have some senators and house of representative members who are sponsoring provision of street light as parts of their social responsibility and the local government who are owners of the street lights that are really inside the neighbourhood. Then there are some street lights that we cannot even account for, but now we are bringing them under the same basket so that it can power the streets from one central point so that we can power the state. This will ensure that at any point when you enter Lagos, all the border towns are powered and have the awareness that a visitor has entered Lagos.
What is the state government doing about rural electrification?
With respect to rural electrification, what we have seen is that the post privatization of the power sector has created a business model where power is now distributed on the basis of who can pay more. So, the transmission company transmits power to discos because they are more inclined to those communities that could pay higher tariff and that means majority of our people would not have light. There are other communities that are completely off-grid, those ones are not on the grid and we normally have problems with them not getting power. So as I speak, we will go all the way to Badagry and Seme because there is a particular community that doesn’t have power for 16 years in the area. The Lagos State government has made it part of its plans under the “Light up Lagos initiative” to bring out these communities that are not under the grid as far as possible. We bring them on to the grid so that they will be on the same level with other inhabitants of Lagos. We have that responsibility to make sure it is done. So that’s the four components of the light up Lagos electrification project. From Lekki, we are going to Badagry and I know very soon we are going to Ikorodu, Alimosho, and all other communities that are not on the grid to bring them under the grid.
What are the major forms of feedstock for powering electricity being adopted?
As I said earlier we already have five, the government is contemplating bringing additional two or three more on board. The essence of the IPP is to make sure that we leverage on them to bring government service closer to the people. For instance, the plan is to make sure that our health facilities are powered, with solar energy to power both at the local level and at the state level so that we can bring health closer to our people. In the same vein, we are also going to use the solar energy to power the water corporation in Lagos so that our people can have access to sustainable and pure water supply. Then another area of intervention from this IPP is to power our schools, their libraries and laboratories and probably the staff quarters of every school.
I also need to announce that with respect to the renewable energy, we have the UK DFID helping us a lot. They have deployed solar power to about 172 schools in Lagos state, particularly in the rural areas and trained a lot of people, under this our initiative, those can afford the transport fare can attend the initiative, the fact is they are readily available to be deployed in other areas.