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100,000MW electricity per day needed to power economy – Elumelu

NIGERIA needs at least 100,000 MW of electricity daily to power the economy, but has so far performed less.

This was stated by the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, owners of United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Transcorp Power, Tony Elumelu, on Wednesday during an interview on ‘The Morning Show’, a programme of Arise News channel.

Elumelu called for urgent reforms in the power sector to improve economic activities in the country.

“Nigeria needs at least 100,000 MW of electricity a day to power the economy but today we operate less than 5,000 MW and we need to do more,” he said.

“Government, therefore, needs to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.”

The Elumelu urged the federal government to invest more in electricity supply in order to create an avenue for innovation and economic development.

Speaking further, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) founder listed the three components of power supply as generation, transmission and distribution and said Nigerians would do better in business and creativity if they had steady electricity supply.

He decried Nigeria’s crippling innovation and economy situation which was a consequence of inadequate electricity supply.

“Transcorp through Transcorp Power and Afam Power today in Nigeria own the highest generating capacity in Nigeria that can generate 2,000 MW of electricity per day. But unfortunately, we do less than 500MW at this point in time and the major constraint in this area is gas; then there is the issue of transmission and there is the issue of payment.

“For this to work well and for us to generate more, we need to have gas and our group has invested in oil and gas. And so, for us as a group, it is not necessarily for oil, it is because of gas because we want to be able to ensure that we have gas from our oil and gas production to convert to electricity.

“The acquisition we did recently, I’m happy to say, it is already supplying gas to our power plant. But going back to the subsidiary element, the issue of transmission, we need to make sure we stabilise our transmission for take-up.”

According to Elumelu, who has his hold on critical sectors of the economy, including real estate, insurance and hospitality, Transcorp invested in the power sector to help Nigerians have access to electricity because businesses across all sectors of the economy like health, e-commerce, manufacturing, SMEs, among others, need power.

“They cannot grow their businesses without adequate electricity. Nigerian and African youths are multi-talented, but they need a steady electricity supply to be creative and innovative,” he said, adding that if the government improves access to electricity in Nigeria, the Nigerian youths will create the Nigerian version of Silicon Valley and the likes of Steve Job and Bill Gates, explaining that what is holding Nigerian youths to a large extent is the lack of adequate electricity.

Elumelu however commended the CBN and its Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, for the support given in the area of metering, stating that to drive Nigeria’s economy, power generation has to be increased by fixing the gas supply to generating companies, adding that there was the need to make sure that the transmission lines are utilised to evacuate the power as well as ensure that power generated is taken by Discos and the end-users and they pay.

“Power is still a critical sector; we need to invest and the stakeholders need to make sure that it works. And when it works, the country’s economic development becomes more real,” the business magnate said.

“Every sector of our economy needs the power sector and I think we need to prioritise it more. But I commend efforts going on and also by making sure we privatise the remaining ones. The transmission lines need to be fixed and we need to make sure we improve the payment system.”

Advocating for the privatisation of the entire value-chain of the power sector, Elumelu stated: “The area of privatising the transmission lines, I think that ultimately, it should be privatised. What some of us have advocated is that the Gencos, the Discos and the entire power stakeholders should come together and have a deal with the federal government to take over the transmission lines and it would be in our self-interest to make sure it works.

“We have the transmission lines and if it doesn’t work when you are generating, there is no way you would evacuate your power. That sector is so critical and pivotal for the survival of the power sector. It is critical to improving access to electricity, and where it is now there is no problem but what is important to us is that we have expanded capacity.”

He concluded by stressing the need for the federal government to focus on diversifying the economy in order to increase the country’s forex inflow and reduce the dependence on revenue from oil.

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