I would like to thank you all for responding to our invitation to discuss the possibility of increasing not only access to power for business, but also improving the quantity and quality of power.
For too long, the story of our manufacturing and production sector has been characterized by lack of infrastructure, including power supply, and the best we seem to have done is to talk about the problem and imagine the possibilities if the problems were removed.
Our meeting is important because we gather not to talk about the problem, we gather to solve the problem. As I said at a different forum, we have a new problem; we have more power than we can distribute.
In that context, we cannot continue to talk of lack of power; instead, we must talk about how to connect to the available and unsold power, and what it will cost to do so.
I must, therefore, thank Dr. Frank Jacobs of M.A.N for the enthusiasm with which they have embraced the idea to have this meeting.
For the records, and as a matter of fact, Nigeria’s Power Generating Companies are now able to produce 7,000 MW and the transmission company is able to transport all of it and is expanding its capacity daily.
The distribution companies have also increased their load taking capacity to 5,0000MW.
However, this leaves a gap of 2,000MW of what you manufacturers will call unsold inventory.
This is in the face of more power plants that will come to operation in 2018 as promised by His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, in his New Year Day address, such as Azura, 459 MW; Afam III, 240 MW, Kaduna, 215 MW, and a host of others.
This unsold and increasing inventory is what this meeting offers to manufacturers as your critical Raw Material to reduce the cost of production.
This is why we declared the Eligible Customer Policy and NERC made the rules that guide its implementation, such that bulk power consumers purchase power from GENCOs directly, while ensuring that the business of DISCOs is protected.
For clarity, let me state that under the EPSRA of 2005, the clear intention was that Generation Companies should be able to sell power to 3 (three) classes of persons:
The bulk trader (NBET)
- The Distribution Companies
- The eligible customer
What we have largely seen are sale to the Bulk Trader.
What we gather to do today is to open the window for sales to the Eligible Customer.
There can be no better time to explore this option than when there is the inventory of unsold power, with the clear promise of more to come.
The market must open to all willing buyers.
This access to power, for manufacturing and production, is the big bridge towards diversification of the Economy.
This is what Nigeria has wanted to do since the 1970s with initiatives such as Operation Feed the Nation and Green Revolution.
But, every time we have started, we have failed to complete the cycle, either due to lack of infrastructure like power to support industries or the elixir of cheap petro-dollars that dim our focus.
Now that Agriculture is back on the right track, Mining is raring to go into industrial production, road and rail infrastructure are being constructed, the Power infrastructure must lock into the mix.
In spite of the spike in oil prices, we must complete this foundation for our Economic and Industrial liberation, by remaining focused. This is what the Buhari Administration seeks to achieve with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
This is the big boost for “Made in Nigeria.”
As you gather today with our technical team, I urge you to be open, frank and, most importantly, be flexible. The negotiations may be tough, but please never walk away from the table.
See only one reason why we must try this, and ignore all the naysayers, who only see why new things should never be done.
Every one of you here today stands at the cusp of history as you deliberate on the necessary actions to build the Bridge that Connects Nigeria’s Industrial Backbone to Electricity.
I await the outcome of this meeting expectantly, and I wish you fruitful deliberations.
Thank you very much.
Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN
Honourable Minister of Power, Works and Housing