Lack of reliable data and paucity of funds may scuttle the dream of getting supplying electricity to rural communities across the country, the Rural Electrification Nigeria Agency (REA Target) Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Damilola Ogunbiyi, has said.
She spoke during the week at the 2018 edition of the Nigeria Off-Grid Innovations and Summit in Lagos.
She said Nigeria needed to provide adequate information on people living in rural and semi-urban areas, before it could effectively utilise the $200 million loan expected from African Development Bank (AfDB).
According to her, the bane of the power industry is poor funding and access to reliable data on the people who need electricity.
Mrs Ogunbiyi said: “A lot of private organisations do not have thousands or millions of dollars to provide electricity for the teeming population in Nigeria. But once data is made available for rural electrification agency, which is saddled with the responsibility to meet the energy needs of people in the rural areas, the job would have been made easier for the agency. When people say there are 80 million or 70 million people without electricity in Nigeria, I keep on asking myself questions such as: Where are the people? What are they doing? What is their productive use? What are the solutions on ground to meet their needs? These are some of the information that needed to be sought for, if we want to solve their energy problems.
“If development agencies asked me what to do with the money, if it is given to me, I would straight away tell them that the money would be used to provide data, with a view to meeting the energy demands of people in the rural areas. We have to do what would make things easier for us, which is reliable data of people in needs of energy.“
Ogunbiyi said government should not think that power programmes or policies would materialise without the involvement of the private sector, noting that such has never worked in the past.
Also, Shell’s Managing Director, Mr Osagie Okunbor, said private participation is key to the issue of resolving energy crises in Nigeria.
Represented at the event by the Managing Director, Shell Gas Nigeria, Mr ED Ubong, Okunbor urged private sector operators to take a cue from Shell and be passionate about Nigeria’s energy problems.
“Shell is so passionate on the issue of resolving Nigeria crises. Shell began operation in Nigeria over 50 years ago. It has worked in deep waters, shallow waters and other areas in the country. Not done yet, Shell has transformed from being an oil company to energy solution firm. This is evident in the huge investments made in Afam power plant, through which Shell is able to generate some megawatts of electricity in Nigeria,” Okunbor said.
He said it is not possible for a company to invest substantially in a project, without considering the economic benefits of such project, stressing that passion is making Shell to do such things.
He said Shell desire is to close the energy gap in the country, adding the issue made the firm to set up On All, an energy driven solution company, with a view to providing electricity to communities, that do not have electricity to create the much needed growth for their people.
Okunbor said Shell, despite being a partner in the Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited, where its holds 26.5 per cent shares alongside the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation( NLNG), Eni and Agip, also see the need in providing gas to thermal plant for improved supply of electricity.
He said the issue of changing Nigeria energy landscape is paramount to Shell, urging stakeholders in the value chain to develop similar interest in provision of electricity for the country.
It would be recalled that the sector generates less than 5,000 Mw of electricity, a development that was attributed to shortage of gas and other issues.
The issue made Federal Government to introduced what its describes as gas development strategy. Through this, the government hopes to make gas more utilised and commercial in the country.
Authored By: Akinola Ajibade