About 30 million Nigerians, particularly residents of rural communities, are yet to be connected to the national electricity grid and are living in blackout, the Federal Government has said.
As a result, the government called for more private sector financing to improve electricity supply, especially to the affected rural dwellers.
The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, gave the statistics in Abuja while declaring open the Nigerian Renewable Energy Private Equity Seminar.
Nebo, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Amb. Godknows Igali, said the seminar was organised to sensitise investors, fund managers, policy makers and other stakeholders on the need to support the development of renewable energy in Nigeria.
According to him, the seminar was also aimed at mobilising stakeholders to initiate an equity fund through private sector participation to promote sustainable energy and deliver power to the millions of Nigerians without electricity.
Citing a United Nations Report on access to power, the minister said, “There is still a wide gap in power supply. Sadly for us here in Nigeria, we still have about 30 million people that do not have access to power at all.
“This is the reason the Federal Government is focusing on renewable energy, particularly off-grid solar and small hydros that would not need to depend on the national grid.”
Nebo said the government was developing hydro-electricity, adding that the financing process for the 3,050 megawatts Mambilla Hydro Dam would soon be completed and the plant would be flagged off by the President.
He added, “There are 264 hydro dams which have not been fully utilised, so in this first quarter, government did a study and is fixing the turbines and other components in 12 of them to increase their generation capacity.”
In her address, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said there was need to supplement mainstream power generation through the harnessing of renewable energy.
Okonjo-Iweala was represented by Hajia Lare Shuaibu.
According to her, the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company Plc had received proposals and enquiries on developing the vast renewable energy in Nigeria.
She said, “Giving the national resources of sunlight, wind, and biomass, among others, we need to start thinking of how they can be harnessed for the power sector.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Henshaw Capital Partners – the firm that organised the programme in collaboration with the power ministry, Ms. Barbara James, said business financing through bank lending and capital market lending at a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product was still relatively low.
This, she said, was unlike what was obtainable in advanced countries.
Barbara noted that the seminar was to prepare grounds for the development of private equity and venture capital, where resources would be pooled to develop sustainable renewable energy for Nigeria.