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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
He said; “In the area of power generation, Nigerians from all parts of the country continue to report better power supply and less use of generators. This underscores the effectiveness of the methodical plan to deliver incremental and uninterrupted power supply to our homes, markets, offices and factories.”
Also according to the President, the nation has witnessed the highest power supply with over 5,000 megawatts of electricity.
He further stated that the nation’s power generation capacity has been expanded to over 7,000 megawatts with the provision of new facilities.
“The country achieved 5, 222.3 MW representing the highest peak of power generated onto the national grid and delivered to customers in December 2017. With new facilities, repairs and rehabilitation by Government and private investors, generation capability now exceeds 7,500 MW.
“This Administration is committed to lawful interventions to ensure the operators of the distribution business live up to expectations especially in the areas of distribution capacity, service delivery, collection efficiency, and metering to eliminate contentious estimated billing”. Read Full SpeechHere.
Youths in Niger state have staged a peaceful protest on Thursday against what they termed an epileptic power supply by the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).
In October last year, they issued a four-week ultimatum to both the AEDC and the transmission company in the state to either improve on power supply or vacate the state. But the state government, including the House of Assembly, waded into the matter.
Speaking to Channels Television’s correspondent, the youths however, noted that they were not satisfied with the outcome of that resolution, hence, the reason they decided to embark on the protest.
There was a sudden loss of power generation on Tuesday night, leading to a total blackout across the country.
According to a statement from the Ministry Of Power, Works and Housing, the power outage occurred following a reported fire incident on a gas pipeline in Edo State.
“Regrettably, after a sustained period of increasing production and distribution of power since September 2017 to date, the Nigerian Gas Processing and Transportation Company Ltd (NGPTC) has reported a fire incident on its Escravos Lagos Pipeline System near Okada, Edo State on Tuesday, January 2, 2018,” the ministry said.
The incident consequently led to the shutdown of the pipeline supplying gas to Egbin 1,320MW; Olorunsogo NIPP 676MW, Olorunsogo 338MW, Omotosho NIPP 450MW, Omotosho 338 MW and Paras 60MW power stations.
The ministry further explained that the sudden loss of generation as a result of the interruption in gas supply from these stations caused the national transmission grid to “trip off around 20:20 on January 2, 2018.”
“The national transmission grid is owned and operated by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN). Most of Nigeria’s power generation is from thermal power stations that require gas for fuel.
“The gas is produced by oil and gas companies overseen by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. The gas is delivered to the power stations through pipelines owned and operated by Nigerian Gas Processing and Transportation Company Ltd (NGPTC), a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC),” the statement added.
The ministry apologised to Nigerians for any difficulty they might have been through, saying TCN and the generation companies are working to restore operation of the national grid.
“We urge members of the public to bear with us as we work to overcome this set back which should be temporary.”
Once the national grid is restored, the ministry promised that output from the hydroelectric power stations and all other unaffected gas fired thermal power stations would be increased to the extent possible to minimise the impact of the loss of generation from the affected power stations while NNPC takes necessary steps to restore gas supply.