ELIZABETH IDIGBE SEEKS RENEWED IMPETUS IN POWER GENERATION
The Managing Partner of the Nigerian law firm, Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors, Mrs Elizabeth Idigbe, has lamented lack of constant electricity supply in the country, calling for a boost in the sector.
According to her, the situation has driven businesses to rely on expensive and highly polluting off-grid self-generation alternatives, culminating in increased business overhead and reduced bottom line and inevitably increased cost of living and dampening of the socio-economic standards of individuals.
Mrs Idigbe added that the sector is further confronted with problems of losses from energy theft and insufficient end users tariffs resulting in significant cash deficits across the power sector value chain and reduced investment participation.
She noted that Nigeria in responding to the situation prioritized the power sector infrastructure in the federal government Economic and Recovery growth plan 2017 – 2020 and the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), which according to her have gone through fundamental changes following the government’s investment of USD$3billion.
However, despite the huge investment and various policy initiatives which have seen the industry move from a vertical integrated government owned statutory monopoly to a private sector led industry with government as guarantor, regulator and policy maker; the industry is yet to overcome its numerous challenges.
“It is presumably that the growth of the electricity supply system is threatened as lack of liquidity in the sector has meant that it is still micro managed by the government through increased government guarantees for privately funded investment,” she said, while adding that this practice negates the desire to facilitate a competitive private sector led electricity market.
Mrs. Idigbe however submitted that the sector would need new ideas and strategies, if it must play its catalyst role of agent of development in Nigeria.
Those issues, she said is the reason the 2019 Punuka Annual Lecture had the theme: “Rethinking the model for an effective Nigerian electricity supply industry (NESI): challenges for government and industry.”
The lecture, which was delivered by a seasoned international energy expert, Jonathan Cohen, Partner/Head of Energy, Howard Kennedy LLP was aimed at proffering solutions as to how current issues in the Nigerian electricity sector can be best handled as well as unveil new opportunities in the sector.
In attendance also were renowned experts in the power and energy sector, international investors, senior government officials including the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN and former Nigerian Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) Alex Okoh, Senior Partner, PUNUKA Attorneys and Solicitors, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN) and Director of Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Ernest Oji.