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Buhari´s Quest To Tackle Power Sector Deficit

Joe Mmeh

Now that the elections have been won and lost, the time for rhetoric is over. It is time for the winners to get into the serious business of governing and uniting Nigerians. It is gratifying to note that the President-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, in his acceptance speech, hit the right tone by saying “You are all my people, I will treat you all as mine…..I pledge myself and our in-coming administration to just and principled governance. There shall be no bias against or favouritism for any Nigerian based on ethnicity, religion, region, gender or social status”.

He also promised to ensure “equity, fairness and justice for all Nigerians”. These are encouraging words and statements meant to heal the wounds caused during the electioneering campaigns. Power Sector Challenges: The energy crisis in Nigeria is real and for Gen. Buhari to be successful, he has to tackle the problem of power deficits seriously and transparently. He needs to make policies that shall encourage private sector participation in the entire power sector and attract foreign Investors. States and Cities in Nigeria shall be allowed to generate and distribute electricity in their areas, if they can. Reliable and uninterrupted Electricity supply is the key to Industrialisation and sustainable development of any nation. It is the engine that drives all other segments.

Increasing access to electricity in Nigeria’s urban and rural areas shall jump-start our economy, helps in Job creation and improve the living conditions of the Nigerian people. After swearing in, let Gen. Buhari declare state of emergency on power sector, organise workshops both on national and zonal levels, invite stakeholders and prospective Investors, lay down his Plans and policies and provide enabling environment as well as Incentives. Coal to Energy: There are large coal deposits at Enugu which are untapped and can be used to generate electricity.

Some Nigerian companies have been granted licences to mine and use coal for power but until now, nothing has been be done by these companies. I assume that their delay in taking off, may have to do with their inability to source the huge funds needed to build modern coal fired power plants and getting capable technical partners with the necessary know-how and technologies. Gen. Buhari shall invite and ask these companies to team up among themselves, form partnerships / consortia, and bring their resources together as to enable immediate take off and implementation of the projects. In today’s business world and in such capital intensive project like power, small companies have little chances of funding or access to credit facilities and in order to be successful and sustainable, they are merging and forming partnerships, therefore all those that obtained licences to build and operate power plants in different zones in Nigeria but have challenges shall be made to pull their resources together as to build bigger and modern Power Plants. In the case of Enugu coal, a modern 2000 MW capacity coal fired power plant shall cost about €2 billion Euros.

The coal power consortium shall also be given licence to reactivate Oji-River thermal Power Plant or build a new one. The Federal Government shall grant them licence too, to tap the unexploited natural Gas Reserve in Anambra / Enugu axis and using same for a 1000 MW Gas fired Power Plant, the cost shall be about €1, 1 billion Euros. Project financing and German consortium: The proposed coal and/or gas power plants are critical and essential infrastructures, which Gen. Buhari´s Administration needs to show serious commitment to as project financing shall not pose much problems. A German consortium is ready to partner the Federal Government and/or Nigerian consortium / Investors in this area and act as both co-financing and technical partners.

The German consortium shall require at least 25% counterpart funding from the Federal Government and/or Nigerian investors, while they shall provide the rest 75% of the project budget in form of equity and loan with 2% Interest irregurate. The 25% counterpart funding to come from the Federal Government and/or Nigerian consortium shall be confirmed through bank confirmation Letter (BCL) from any AAA-rated bank or through sovereign government guarantee. The German technical Partners shall do the feasibility Studies and analyses required, starting with determining the overall Coal reserve at Enugu minefields and confirming its quality & quantity, then undertaking the environmental Impact Assessment studies, presenting Business plan, plant designs and the cost estimation of the whole Project. The plant shall be designed to deliver the solutions with optimal results (high efficiency).

It shall be constructed using the latest German green technologies, thereby avoiding the negative impacts on human health and the environment such as air pollution, fine dust, smog and high CO² emission usually associated with coal power plants. The plant shall meet the German environmental and safety standards, which are the highest in the World. The Germans do not make promises, they give assurances.

The consortium shall within 48 months complete and start generating Electricity that shall be fed into the national grid. Our Support: The job before Gen. Buhari as Nigeria’s next President is enormous and challenging, therefore there is no gain-saying the fact that he needs the support of all Nigerians both home and abroad as well as the meaningful contributions of all those who can help him fulfil his campaign promises. He needs technocrats as well as people who are practically oriented and can produce immediate results. May God give him and his team the wisdom and strength to discharge their duties and take Nigeria to a new height.

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