Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing, says there has been a sustained level of progress in incremental power supply in spite of challenges in the power sector.
Incremental power supply is such that every megawatt of electricity supply is harnessed from all sources and made available to the people.
Fashola spoke on new developments in the sector, at the Power Nigeria exhibition held in Lagos on Tuesday.
“Are there challenges? Yes, there are. And I will speak about a few. Those are the risks of entrepreneurship. But the opportunities and the return on investment clearly outweigh the challenges,” he said.
“They are opportunities in a market that is transiting from government control and operation for 63 years between 1950 and November 2013, to government regulation and private sector operation in the last three years.
“Let me reiterate very clearly, that while this administration remains committed and focused on improving our collective power experience, and while I understand the need to act expeditiously in order to stimulate the economy back to growth and inclusion, we must bear in mind that the transition is only less than three years on, and we must manage our expectations for results within the context of the unfruitful power experience of 63 years.
“As I have said before, our approach is simple and methodical. Start from getting incremental power from all sources; solar, coal, hydro, gas, bio-mass, nuclear, wind and whatever is possible; and I am happy to report gradual and sustained progress in this regard in spite of the setback caused by vandalization and sabotage which we will certainly resolve.
“Our responsibility as government is therefore to provide an environment that enables the private sector thrive, deepen its investment, and contribute to our stock of incremental power.”
Fashola added that government was aware of foreign exchange and debt challenges affecting operators in the power sector, and called for honesty and transparency across board.
“Our policies seek to ensure that investors who play by the rules will recover their investments and a decent profit, while we protect consumers from people who want to profiteer.
“One of the challenges that currently afflicts the sector is the liquidity issue. I can say categorically that government is aware of these issues ranging from the volatile foreign exchange rates to MDA debts, to collection losses. These issues require all operators in the value chain, not only government, to act with a common commitment, with transparency and with candour.
“As I said at my inception of duty tour, we will pay all properly verified debts and we have started working with ministries and departments to ascertain the actual quantum of debts, with a view to solving them. The bulk trader, NBET is working to raise funds to provide financial security for the sector.
“What we need is full disclosure from all operators in and open manner to assist us ascertain that the debts are legitimate so that we can take the next steps. What we do not need is a media war between operators about who is the cause of the problem.
“What we do not need are sensational and exaggerated media statements that can cause panic in the industry. What we do not need are unguarded statements that either mislead the public or threaten our national security, because debts are owed.