The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has disclosed that the federal government will require about $350 billion to upgrade the power sector to at least 20,000 megawatts (MW) within the next 15 years.
Breaking the figure down, Nebo said it would cost $1.5 million for one megawatts of a gas power plant.
Speaking at a town hall meeting in Abuja, Nebo also disclosed plans to procure and deploy to the 11 electricity distribution companies across the country, about one million units of consumer meters for onward installation to unmetered electricity consumers in the country.
Describing the new metering plan as part of its equity investments in the distribution networks which it still retains 40 per cent share in, he said President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the funding for purchase of the one million meters.
Within its electricity privatisation schedule, the federal government retained 40 per cent shareholding in the 11 distribution companies in the country.
He said the meter procurement was part of the investment responsibilities of the government.
Nebo stated that the investment was targeted at closing the extant wide metering gap in the sector and that both the ministry of power and distribution companies would have to develop and adopt a proactive deployment formula before they will be distributed to consumers. He explained that from studies, Nigeria has the highest rate of electricity theft among countries that were sampled across the globe.
He said: “The private sector inherited a customer base that showed that more than 50 per cent do not have meters. As you can see, Nigeria has the highest per capital electricity theft in the world. What I am saying is that we have thieves who steal electricity. They may be very well dressed as responsible citizens but they are thieves because they are not paying their due electricity bills.”
“It is so painful that people are not paying and that is why government has decided that since the Discos are over burdened with all kinds of other things, the president has approved the funding to give over one million meters to Nigerians to reduce the gap and then allow the Discos to fix the time that all Nigerians will get meters.
If you have no meters, you are subject to estimated billing but we think we should continue to insist that every consumer must be metered. When government kick starts the massive deployment of meters, estimated billing will stop,” Nebo noted.
The minister, who did not provide financial details on the planned meter procurement, said: “The funding has been approved by the president and the funds are going to be released very soon. These meters are being procured and in fact it was based on a contract that became moribund many years ago. “I do think that in the next couple of months you will begin to see them because a mechanism still has to be developed on how they will be distributed to the distribution companies.”
Nebo also took out time to explain the challenges of the power sector following its privatisation. He stated that criticisms that the sector has not made remarkable progress in the last four years were unfounded. He said in this regard, “It is a grand deception and blowing hot air for people to say that the power sector is not working. I think it is a shame that people who should know better can go about trying to deceive the country that the power sector has not been doing what it ought to do.
“The federal government has done a lot and from all that we have seen within the last four years, this country has seen a very good growth in power generation, transmission and distribution of power. “Mr. President inherited a daily generation capacity of 2,800 megawatts and today we are exceeding 4,500 megawatts, facts do not lie and we have scientific data to validate what we are saying.”