COVID-19 Lockdown: Gbajabiamila Meets NERC, Others Over Power Supply

 

As Nigerians continue to clamour for better power supply especially following the stay-at-home order by the Federal government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila, has met with the Minister of Power, Sale Mamman and the management of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The meeting which held on Wednesday sought to address some of the issues regarding electricity, as well as a viral video by Nollywood actress, Ada Ameh.
In the video, Ameh lamented over the poor electricity supply to Nigerians during the ongoing lockdown in major parts of the country.

While giving his opening remark, Gbajabiamila expressed dismay over the barrage of calls and messages from many Nigerians through his social media account, reacting to the protest video and therefore, called for prompt action.

“It has become imperative that I urgently call for this meeting to find a solution to the poor supply of electricity during this lockdown period. If we ask people to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, at least we have to make their homes comfortable for them to stay.

“The complaints have just been too much in the last 24 hours. There are people also in the hospital now without electricity; we need to brainstorm over an urgent solution,” he said.

On his part, the Minister of Power, Mamman, highlighted the challenges encountered by power generating companies (GENCOs) and the possible intervention of the leadership of the House of Representatives.

“We are aware of the challenges faced by Nigerians, so we have started talking to GENCOs because they have been complaining that Discos are not paying and only about 20% of their dues are remitted.

“So, the GENCOs are facing technical and revenue shortfall. Consequently, they can’t as well meet their financial obligations to gas companies. The Discos also pay less of their generated revenue to GENCOs, because they complain about power theft by consumers, high technical costs, etc.

“The sum of N130 billion is what the government gives GENCOs to augment the shortfall of payments not fulfilled by Discos. We still have about N1.2 trillion payment shortfall in all. I have been begging the gas suppliers to please, in the interest of Nigerians, release gas to the GENCOs. The shortfalls are accruals from the problem of estimated billing, non-payment of bills by estimated customers, etc.

“What the NASS can do is to plead with CBN to help with funds to enable the Federal Government to augment the revenue shortfall to enable government pay gas companies and thereafter bring all the critical stakeholders to a table,”, the power minister said.

In his contribution, the NERC Commissioner on Compliance, Mr. Akpaneye, assured the Speaker and the leadership of the House that the commission is committing the Discos to a new guideline that shows empathy with Nigerians during this COVID-19 lockdown.

“All NERC Commissioners are in the Situation Room in our office monitoring GENCOs and Discos activities. We know the demand for this power during this lockdown is for residential, since most industries are on lockdown, so we are going to release a new guideline and sanction electricity companies that can’t show empathy during this period.”

Also speaking, the GMD of NNPC, Kyari hinted that the problem with the Trans Vocados gas line was resolved Wednesday morning and therefore, gave an assurance of supply of gas to enable GENCOs to generate power.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed and the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, on their part, gave accounts of complications arising from the non-fulfilment of financial obligations by the electricity stakeholders but assured of interventions in the interest of Nigerians who are observing the lockdown order.

At the end of the meeting, all the critical stakeholders assured the Speaker and the leadership of the House of their commitment to ensuring power supply.

They, however, agreed to reconvene in the next few days to find lasting solutions to the challenges in the sector beyond the lockdown period.

Electricity: Power Distribution Is A Major Problem In Nigeria, Says Mamman

 

The Minister of Power, Saleh Maman, says Nigeria’s major problem with electricity supply is due to the low distribution of 3,000 megawatts.

He stressed that the country can generate up to 13,000mw of electricity, but cannot transmit all.

Mr Maman said after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday that despite the generation, transmission can only take 7,000 and distribution companies can only receive 3,000 because of the technical and commercial losses.

“The problem of our generation is mainly distribution, we can transmit, we can generate; we can generate 13,000, we transmit 7,000 but we can only distribute 3,000; so there is a lot of work to do on transmission companies and the government is willing to take up the matter immediately.

“Most of the problem we are facing today in this country that we cannot get electricity supplies adequately is because we have a problem in distribution.”

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He stated that the government was in talks with a German firm, Siemens, to be part of solutions it was seeking to address the challenges.

He added that the involvement of Siemens will ensure that Nigerians start enjoying uninterrupted power supply.

“We have to correct the infrastructure, so today I have submitted my observation to the government and I believe that they are on it.

“FG has entered into an MoU with the German government, Siemen who are here to align between distribution, transmission and also generation so that at the end of the day, if we generate 13,000, transmission will take and distribute the same 13,000 so by that time, Nigeria will be happy and everybody will have uninterrupted electricity supply,” he added.

Electricity Tariff Should Be Increased After Criminalising Estimated Billing, Says Gbajabiamila

A file photo of Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has rejected the proposed increment of electricity tariff in the country.

His reaction came one week after Channels Television reported that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved the immediate review of electricity tariffs across the country.

In a series of tweets on Friday, Gbajabiamila believes the right time to increase electricity rates is when the proposed amendment to the act criminalising estimated billing is signed into law.

He promised to meet with the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice, as well as other stakeholders to ensure the proposed increase was made on a practical basis.


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The Speaker said, “There is no guarantee that after any electricity tariff hike the DISCOs will not continue with the nefarious practice of bills estimation or provide uninterrupted power supply.

“I believe the National Assembly should ensure that any increase in electricity tariff if at all, should be cost-reflective and not just a whimsical increase with no empirical basis.”

“Also, any such increase should only be made after the proposed amendment to the law criminalising estimated billing is signed into law.

“I intend to meet and discuss this sequence and other conditions with the Attorney General of the Federation and other relevant authorities,” he added.

In a series of documents dated December 31, 2019, NERC had announced the plan to increase electricity tariff effective January 1, 2020.

A review of the new amount to be paid by various categories of electricity consumers shows an increase that ranges from 59.7 per cent to 77.6 per cent.

Consumers classified as residential (R1) were, however, excluded from the review as the N4 per kWh they pay was left unchanged.

The development affected customers captured in the 11 Distribution Companies (DISCOs) spread across the country such as Abuja DISCO, Benin DISCO, Enugu DISCO, and Eko DISCO.

Others are Ibadan DISCO, Ikeja DISCO, Jos DISCO, Kaduna DISCO, Kano DISCO, Port Harcourt DISCO, and Yola DISCO.

The decision, however, sparked an outcry in the country, forcing the electricity regulatory body to shift the implementation of the review until April.

NERC Chairman, Professor James Momoh, told reporters on Monday that the commission would engage the public on the planned review in the next three months, before deciding on any implementation.

He also said NERC would begin the regulation of estimated billing by electricity distribution companies who fail to provide meters for their customers.

NigeriaAt59: Without Power, It Is Difficult To Move Forward – Gupta

An expert on globalisation and emerging markets on Tuesday highlighted the importance of electricity in moving a nation forward.

Dr Anil Gupta, who was one of the speakers at The Platform, a programme convened by Pastor Poju Oyemade of Covenant Christian Center, stressed that Electricity is the lungs of the economy of a nation and without it; it is difficult to record progress.

He also stressed that electricity is a major aspect of Nigeria’s infrastructure which needs to be considered by the government.

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“The seeming most important aspect is electricity. Roads, highways and other segments of infrastructure are important but electricity, I will put ahead of these.

“If we look at the Industrial revolution that made America and Europe rich, starting from the early 19th century its really that the lungs which gives power to the body. It was steam engines first and electricity next.

“So, without the power, the lungs of the economy it is very difficult, it is impossible to march ahead.”

Gupta also lamented that “The electricity produced in Nigeria is very inadequate and obviously that is a segment of infrastructure where the government has almost always has played a major role.”

Making reference to statistics and estimates, he said Nigeria will experience development if electricity is given proper and adequate attention.

Financial Times statistics show that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria spends 40% cost of production on power, Gupta said, if this is not promptly curtailed by Nigeria’s government it will “act as a constraint in terms of development.”

Electricity: Nasarawa To Generate 1,000 Megawatts From Coal

A file photo of Governor Abdullahi Sule.

Nasarawa State government plans to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity from coal reserves in Obi Local Government Area.

Governor Abdullahi Sule made this known while flagging off the construction of a 2km solar powered streetlights in the council area.

According to him, his administration is finalizing arrangement with a private electricity firm, the General Electric towards boosting the electricity supply in the state.

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The governor explained that the firm plans relocating four of its turbines in South Africa to the state where it will begin the electricity generation which he said will power the entire state.

“I am happy that I’m here today to actually start this project, but my happiest day in Obi will come when I bring General Electric to come and use the coal deposits in Obi, with the four turbines that they are going to relocate from South Africa to Obi, so that they can start generating the 1000megawatts that will power the entire state,” he said.

Governor Sule believes that the project will not just provide services to the people but it will also generate employment as well as economic activities.

Huge Fire Erupts At Power Station Outside Moscow

 

A huge blaze broke out Thursday at a gas-fired power station just outside Moscow sending a plume of smoke and flames 50 metres (165 feet) into the sky, Russian television showed.

The fire at Power Station No. 27 broke out around 11:00 am on Thursday around 20 kilometres (13 miles) from Moscow.

The emergencies ministry said that 11 people received medical treatment including five people with minor burns but no one was hospitalised. There was no risk of the fire spreading to nearby residential areas, it said.

The energy ministry said a high-pressure gas pipe supplying fuel was burning outside the power station itself.

Russian television reported that the cause of the fire “could have been an explosion”.

The smoke and flames were visible from the capital and the emergencies ministry said that the fire blazed over an area of 800 square metres (8,600 square feet).

The plume of fire subsided after authorities switched off the gas supply but black smoke continued to billow as gas already released continued to burn.

The emergencies ministry said the fire would be localised shortly.

One witness, Sofiya Fesenko, watching the fire from her flat in Mytishi, said on Russian television that hot water flowed from cold taps after the fire broke out.

“We saw smoke covering half the sky,” she said.

The emergency services sent in helicopters to drop water and fire-fighting trains to tackle the blaze, with more than 150 firefighters at the scene.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on Twitter that the city was sending 50 of its fire engines to the power station.

The authorities warned drivers not to use nearby highways as the smoke hindered traffic and one highway leading to Moscow’s ring road was closed entirely.

The power station was built at the end of the Soviet era and opened in 1996. Its four reactors supply part of Moscow and the Moscow region with electricity and centralised hot water and heating.

The energy ministry said electricity supplies to the public would not be affected and the fire did not damage generation equipment at the station.

Russia is economically dependent on its vast oil and gas reserves.

AFP

Manufacturers List Poor Electricity, Multiple Taxation As Major Operational Challenges – Survey

Manufacturers List Poor Electricity, Multiple Taxation As Major Operational Challenges

 

Manufacturers have listed poor electricity, multiple taxations, high-interest rates, and poor accessibility to ports as parts of challenges affecting the operational capacity of companies in Nigeria.

This is according to a quarterly Manufacturers CEOs Confidence Index (MCCI), conducted by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) to measure the pulse of the manufacturing sector.

The survey which captured the First Quarter of 2019, had over 200 Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of MAN member-companies across the six geo-political zones of the country and the ten Sectoral Groups of the Association, respond to questionnaires in a bid to identify key areas that need review.

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The result from the first quarter survey showed that manufacturing stood at 51.3 points, slightly above the minimum 50 points threshold of good performance.

This implies that the Manufacturing sector is still struggling as operators have a seemingly low confidence level but a high expectation that manufacturing performance will improve.

On Capital Expenditure, the majority of respondents did not agree that Government implementation encouraged productivity in the sector.

The Association affirmed the survey by highlighting the available poor economic infrastructure such as inadequate power supply, bad road network, high cost of abstracting water, low patronage and many more.

Meanwhile, 92 percent of the CEOs interviewed, agreed that multiple taxes and levies depress production in the manufacturing sector.

They also agreed that poor access to national ports and the associated gridlock negatively affects productivity in the manufacturing sector.

Although, 44 percent of respondents, agreed that the level of local sourcing of raw-materials has improved in the manufacturing sector. While 37 percent disagreed, and the remaining 19 percent were not sure if local sourcing of raw-materials has improved in the sector.

Effect of Executive Order 003 was also examined and 40 percent disagreed that patronage of Nigeria manufactured products has improved based on the order which mandated all Government establishments to make Nigerian manufactured goods first choice in their procurement processes.

The manufacturers recommended that the Government must make conscious efforts to repair and expand the roads leading to Lagos Ports, make other ports outside Lagos, functional so as to address the gridlock challenges and the associated cost.

They also asked that Forex should be made available for the purchase of manufacturing inputs and there should be a continuous improvement on the power supply and the general upgrade of the nation’s infrastructure.

The survey highlighted that the Capital Expenditure component of the National budget should be conscientiously implemented to bridge the infrastructure gap in the country.

Maduro Announces 30 Days Of Electricity Rationing In Venezuela

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro (C) and Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino (R) along with other members of the government, announcing a 30-day electricity rationing plan, at the Miraflores Palace in Caracas, on March 31, 2019.  HO / Venezuelan Presidency / AFP

 

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced 30 days of electricity rationing Sunday after his government said it was shortening the working day and keeping schools closed due to blackouts.

Angry Venezuelans meanwhile took to the streets of Caracas to protest the power cuts and water shortages.

The measures are a stark admission by the government — which blamed repeated power outages in March on sabotage — that there is not enough electricity to go around, and that the power crisis is here to stay.

The blackouts have worsened already dire economic and living conditions in the country, which sits on the world’s largest proven oil reserves.

Power failures come alongside a political showdown between Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized as interim president by the United States and more than 50 other countries.

Speaking on state television, Maduro said he had approved “a 30-day plan” to ration power.

He did not detail how it would work but said there would be “an emphasis on guaranteeing water service”.

Maduro also acknowledged that many Venezuelans could not watch his broadcast because they had no electricity.

Crippled infrastructure, little investment in the power grid and poor maintenance have all contributed to electricity problems.

A “brain drain” of qualified personnel has also hit the industry, with about 25,000 people in the electricity sector among the 2.7 million Venezuelans who have emigrated since 2015.

Add to that the country’s deep economic crisis, which includes a soaring inflation rate.

Earlier on Sunday, authorities announced other measures as a result of the electricity shortage.

“To achieve consistency in the provision of electricity, the Bolivarian government decided to maintain the suspension of school activities and establish a workday until 2:00 pm in public and private institutions,” Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said on state television.

With no electricity, pumping stations can’t work, so water service is limited. Street lights and traffic lights go dark, pumps at fuel stations stand idle, and cell phone and internet service is non-existent.

Children don’t have “a drop of water” to drink, complained Maria Rodriguez, a Caracas resident.

But people try to find it wherever they can: from springs, leaky pipes, gutters, government-provided tankers, and the little that flows through the Guiare River in Caracas.

“We fill up from a well near here but we don’t know if its drinkable. But we’re using it,” said Erimar Vale, a resident of the capital.

Angel Velazquez said he bathed at work because they did not have water at home.

Opposition leader Guaido asked people to protest each time there was a blackout.

“This is going to continue. The situation is very serious, there will be more blackouts and rationing,” said Winton Cabas, president of the Venezuelan Association of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering.

“The whole power grid is barely generating between 5,500 and 6,000 megawatts when it has the capacity to generate 34,000 megawatts,” he told AFP.

 Problems run deep 

The Maduro government has blamed “terrorists” for alleged attacks that have damaged the Guri hydroelectric power plant, which generates 80 per cent of Venezuela’s electricity.

The Guri plant, however, was already showing signs of trouble: back in 2010, then-president Hugo Chavez said electricity would be rationed in some Venezuelan states because water was low at the Guri dam due to a drought.

Jose Aguilar, a Venezuelan consultant living in the United States, said the problems with the power grid run deep.

“Over the past 20 years, the infrastructure has been abused due to a lack of maintenance and the postponing of upgrade plans,” he told AFP.

Another problem was the “de-professionalization” of the sector, when Chavez nationalized the privately-run power company in 2007, in which pro-government loyalists took positions as managers and engineers.

 Cooking pots, whistles 

Demonstrations by Venezuelans angry about the blackouts broke out Sunday in Caracas.

With cooking pots, whistles and flags, dozens of residents spontaneously took to the streets in scattered protests.

Protesters and human rights groups said some demonstrators were attacked by “colectivos”, pro-government enforcers that the opposition describes as paramilitary thugs.

Maduro has given the “colectivos” permission to contain protests that he describes as violent mobs aiming to oust him from power.

Joaquin Rodriguez, a 54-year-old lawyer, was among those protesting in Los Palos Grandes, a once-prosperous neighborhood that has endured blackouts for more than a decade.

“Once again a nationwide blackout is affecting our quality of life,” he told AFP.

“We don’t have water. We don’t have any light. We don’t have internet access, our phones don’t work… we are even worse off than we could have imagined.”

AFP

French Govt To Freeze Electricity, Gas Price Hikes After Protests

President of France Emmanuel Macron. John Moore/Getty Images/AFP

The French government plans to freeze upcoming increases on regulated electricity and gas prices in the wake of protests over rising costs of living, lawmakers in the ruling Republic on the Move party said.

Stricter vehicle emission controls set to kick in in January 2019 will also be suspended, one of the demands of the “yellow vest” movement which erupted last month, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told lawmakers before a televised address later on Tuesday.

AFP

 

I Will Provide Affordable, Uninterrupted Electricity If Elected President – Ezekwesili

I Will Provide Affordable, Uninterrupted Electricity If Elected President – Ezekwesili

 

The candidate of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, has assured Nigerians of development in the power sector if she wins the presidential election in 2019.

In a statement on Sunday, she promised that uninterrupted power supply would be witnessed in the country.

“Our vision is to provide sustainable, affordable and uninterrupted electricity supply to all Nigerian towns and villages, starting with Nigerian cities,” said the former minister.

“Our vision is to ensure that the Nigerian electricity supply industry becomes fully functional, vibrant and employs hundreds of thousands of young Nigerians, in both the on-grid and off-grid segments.”

Ezekwesili explained that her plan for the electricity industry was designed such that the sector would be developed to employ more youths.

She said, “From 1999 to date, all the projections made by successive governments to grow the supply of electricity to Nigerians, to either 6,000MW, 10,000MW or 20,000MW, have not been met.

“The Nigerian citizens’ desire and willingness to pay an appropriate price of electricity consumed is seen in the great demand for generators of all shapes and sizes, and how much they pay to operate and service these machines.”

“The low power availability from the National Grid has meant that corporate entities have to divert large amount of funds from their core productive areas of focus to this critical area of reliable power supply,” the presidential candidate added.

“The price of this is paid in not being competitive and great loss of production capacities, which further impoverishes the populace.”

The immediate goal of Ezekwesili is to provide some Nigerian towns, cutting across the six geo-political zones of the country with 24-hours, 365 days-a-year electricity within the first four years of her administration.

They are Lagos, Kano, Enugu, Birnin Kebbi, Aba, Minna, Gombe, Lokoja, Gusau, Jos, Yola, Abuja, Ilorin, Benin, Owerri and Ijebu-Ode.

The other cities to benefit from this are Calabar, Katsina, Benin, Warri, Ibadan, Ado-Ekiti, Maiduguri, Yenegoa, Damaturu, Osogbo, Bauchi, Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Sokoto, Akure, Makurdi, Dutse, Abakaliki, Uyo, Jalingo and Onitsha.

The rural areas proximate to the towns, according to her, will also enjoy the services.

The presidential candidate explained that stable electricity would aid business growth in Nigeria, noting that challenges causing underperformance would be addressed if she is elected president.

She said, “This electricity will be aimed at facilitating and growing business, commercial and industrial activities, in a drive to create jobs and increase productivity. Nigeria’s per capita electricity consumption is among the lowest in the world and far lower than many other African countries.

“The plan that will be executed for the power sector recognises that the Nigerian power sector is in transition from a government to a private-sector owned and operated industry; therefore, facing challenges, which include, political interference, lack of elective leadership, financial issues, distribution issues, transmission issues, gas supply issues, and generation issues.”

Ezekwesili added, “These issues account for the consistent underperformance witnessed in the last 58 years and will need to be seriously tackled if the potential of the Nigerian power sector is to be realised.

“To get electricity right, thus rapidly improve electricity performance and delivery gap to Nigerians, this plan outlines the change in approach that the administration will adopt.”

How I Will Fix Electricity Problem In 36 Months – Donald Duke

 

A former governor of Cross Rivers State, Donald Duke, on Sunday explained how he would fix the electricity problem in the country if elected president.

Duke, who is contesting the presidential election in 2019 on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), said the task would take him less than three years to be done.

Reeling out his plans and programmes in an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, the SDP candidate believes the country must leverage its abundance of gas.

“Maximum of 36 months,” he said the job would take. “This is a nation that flares until recently 2.5 billion cubic feet of gas – that is equivalent to about 25 million litres of diesel.”

The former governor, however, said the nation should “have a nationwide gas grid where literally in every senatorial district there is gas”.

“Get manufacturing off the national grid, put them on gas. I will charge the gas relatively low, really low because you are flaring it,” he added.

“Leave domestic and small scale (businesses) on the national grid. In 24 months, you can have a national gas grid; in 24 months, you can have gas throughout this country if you are serious.”

How I Will Fix Electricity Problem In 36 Months – Donald Duke
Former Cross Rivers State Governor, Donald Duke, speaks during an interview on Sunday Politics on October 21, 2018.

Duke is confident that the steps he highlighted will not only put an end to the electricity problems in the country but also encourage investment if the manufacturing industries are charged with low interests.

He faulted the situation where the President is the Minister of Petroleum Resources, stressing that more attention should be given to how funds are being utilised.

“I think that is hogwash; absolutely hogwash. I would rather be Minister of Finance.

“I will take over the finances of the country and know how the money is spent,” the SDP presidential candidate said.

The former governor further explained that the challenges facing the nation originated from its productivity index which he said was ‘absolutely dismal’

According to him, there is a need to create jobs for the people, as well as an environment where citizens can do things for themselves.

He disclosed that this would be one of the major priorities of his administration if elected president, noting that job creation required an emergency approach.

Compete To Deliver Or Exit, FG Warns Electricity Distribution Companies

Compete To Deliver Or Exit, FG Warns Electricity Distribution Companies
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (file)

 

The Federal Government has read the riot act to the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) operating in Nigeria.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on Monday, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, warned them to be efficient in their service delivery to Nigerians.

He said the companies were aware of the challenges in the power sector, noting that the government would no longer tolerate the issues of estimated billing and mass disconnection of consumers.

“The DISCOs bought these assets with their eyes wide open and they must compete to deliver or exit,” said Fashola.

He added, “In the face of this picture where we have power to sell with more to come, the number of complaints coming to government for meter which DISCOs should supply, and for estimated billings and mass disconnection where not everybody is owing cannot continue. Government must act and will do so.”

The minister decried that investment of the generating companies is threatened because the capacity of electricity being generated is under-utilised.

According to him, small business owners who need very little power are not getting enough because the DISCOs cannot make the power available to them.

Fashola informed reporters at the briefing that the government effort to improve the sector is yielding positive results as power generation is increasing by an average of 1,000MW annually.

He, however, insisted that government would not allow any distribution company to frustrate its efforts towards providing a stable power supply for the citizenry.

The minister revealed, “I can report progress in generation, transmission, and distribution post-privatisation.

“The generation of power has improved from approximately 4,000MW in 2015 to approximately 7,000MW in 2018, averaging an increase of about 1,000MW per annum.”