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British envoy to FG: Explore new opportunities to scale up electricity delivery

British envoy to FG: Explore new opportunities to scale up electricity delivery
October 26
10:40 2023

Richard Montgomery, British high commissioner to Nigeria, has asked the federal government to explore new opportunities to scale up electricity delivery to Nigerians, saying that the country’s prosperity hinges on getting its power sector right.

Montgomery spoke at a roundtable on the Electricity Act of 2023.

The event, held on Wednesday in Abuja, was themed, ‘Implications and Opportunities for State Electricity Markets’.

Montgomery, who was represented by Gill Atkinson, deputy British high commissioner to Nigeria, urged the country to find ways to connect the dots between the power sector and inclusive growth.

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“This is the time to explore new opportunities to scale up electricity delivery to more Nigerians, which we have already recognised the importance of,” he said.

“We need to give primacy to ways to promote expanded renewable integration, both on and off grid.

“Nigeria gave fantastic commitments to COP26 and to the future of its power sector. This forum will help Nigeria deliver those commitments.

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“We also need to find ways to connect the dots between the power sector and inclusive growth. Nigeria’s prosperity depends on getting the power sector right.”

‘NIGERIA HAS WORLD’S LARGEST ELECTRICITY DEFICIT’

Montgomery said 90 million Nigerians and the nation’s economy are being negatively impacted by the electricity sector shortfall, recommending collaboration with the incoming government to find a solution.

“We have a new government here. It’s embarked on important macroeconomic reforms. The exchange rate and the fuel subsidy are bringing short-term pain to the country and to the people of the country,” he said.

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“But these are positive changes in the medium to long term that will help Nigeria fulfill its potential for the future.

“Part of this, and a particularly important moment, is the Nigeria’s power sector. Unfortunately, the country has the world’s largest absolute electricity deficit.

“This affects 90 million people. Even those Nigerians who are connected to the grid face frequent outages and hence don’t get a reliable supply.”

The British envoy urged Nigeria to understand and acknowledge the impacts of the power supply problems, both on the citizens and on its economy.

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‘ELECTRICITY ACT WOULD DEEPEN COMPETITIVENESS IN MARKT’

The senate had passed the electricity bill in July 2022 to solve the sector’s challenges.

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On June 9, 2023, President Bola Tinubu assented to the bill, empowering states, companies, and individuals to generate, transmit, and distribute electricity.

The new electricity law repeals the Electricity and Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 and consolidates the laws relating to the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).

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Speaking at the meeting, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) said the Act would deepen the electricity market in Nigeria in a competitive way.

AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, NGF’s chairman and governor of Kwara state, said promoting sub-national electricity programmes will facilitate the development of sustainable, competitive, and diversified electricity markets.

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“I must say with the Act, more questions will be thrown up than answers, but this engagement will bring answers where moving into a new area, which challenges will be enormous and how to address them,” he said.

“I hope we will leave here enriched to see how we can implement the Electricity Act and interface with the existing structures that are in place now.”

On his part, Asishana Okauru, the NGF director-general, said the forum strongly believes that the growth in the electricity sector in Nigeria would inevitably catalyse economic development as well as positively impact all the other sectors.

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