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Business News of Friday, 9 April 2021

Source: The Nation

‘Off-grid power solution won’t work until grid power works’

Stop its interference and allow private sector players to fully take charge - CPG CEO Stop its interference and allow private sector players to fully take charge - CPG CEO

The Chief Executive Officer, Century Power Generation Limited, Dr. Chukwueloka Umeh, has warned that the clamour for off-grid power as a solution to power failure in the country will continue to be a distraction to the availability of power if challenges of grid power are not resolved.

He said since 2017, that the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) was signed with some independent power producers, no solar plant has been built. He added that the solution to the fundamental problems bedeviling the power sector was for the government to stop its interference and allow private sector players to fully take charge.

He stated this as a guest on a television programme in Lagos, where he asserted that though the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) could be applauded for taking the initiative to meter Nigerians and expand the power sector, success in metering Nigerians could only be achieved with the active participation of private business concerns.

According to him, the success of the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) will put meters in the hands of more customers who have to pay cost-reflective tariffs. This, he said, will increase liquidity in the market, and put money in circulation – from the Discos to TCN to the gas transporter.

Umeh said it was only when private investors were allowed to drive the sector that resources could come in and stay.

”The fundamental problem is that the entire sector should be driven by the private sector, not the government. Everything the government is doing is okay, they are helping but they are not helping fast enough. Let’s allow the private sector to drive the sector and we will see everything being done. There is money in the private sector, from other countries to develop the power sector and it is only when the sector is in the hands of the private sector that the money can come in and stay here,’’ he said.

Umeh, also the chief operating officer of the Nestoil Group, said investment could only come into the sector when investors were assured that there would be returns on their investment, as the provision of power was not a charity but a business decision.

He wants the government to use the money used to subsidise the sector to develop other parts of the economy that will help people – better roads, better healthcare, schools, and security.

According to him, other sectors will help people to have small businesses that will let them pay for the power they consume.

“The government, as a matter of urgency, can use part of the subsidy money to develop the manufacturing sector so that meters can be manufactured and not assembled in the country.

This will retain capital in the country and stop the importation of the parts that local steel producers can do,’’ he stated.

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