NERC’s proposed solar power project


    THE statement by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), that it was working  towards generating 7,200MW of electricity from solar  source by 2020 is, in principle, a welcome proposition in an age when ‘green energy,’ is recommended to further conserve the environment. And because Nigeria is located on that part of the globe that enjoys somewhat continuous sunshine, there is, all along, every reason to tap into this limitless source of energy.

    It is just as well then that the planning authorities are waking up to an option that elsewhere others saw and tapped into. NERC and every other body concerned with this plan deserve all the encouragement to achieve and indeed supersede the 18 per cent target that it reckons to generate. It needs be admitted that solar energy technology is not yet as advanced compared with those of hydropower and fossil fuel energy. It behoves the NERC, therefore, to develop local technological skills that will not only manage the project but also domesticate as well as improve on related technology. Indeed, but for the dysfunctional state of the country’s affairs, Nigeria, by virtue of its location at a sun-drenched part of the globe, should be at the forefront of the research into, and application of solar energy. It would be most sensible that, having borrowed from others, the country should not depend perpetually on foreign technology to sustain it.

    Even as the idea to diversify into solar energy is right, it should not be impossible for the authorities to make the best of any source of energy at all. Apart from the massive corruption surrounding it, too little benefits have been derived from the immense hydropower waiting to be maximally exploited, from the coal lying under the Nigerian ground, and from the oil that is so available but so abused and mismanaged to the detriment of the country and its people.

    Although the task to privatise the hitherto publicly-owned Power Holding Corporation of Nigeria (PHCN)  and make the offshoots work efficiently and effectively was not expected to be hitch-free, it has unfortunately proved tough for NERC and indeed the Federal Government. All that Nigerians want is regular power supply for which, as experience from the telecommunications sector has proved, they would willingly pay for. Instead, and despite the  unquantifiable tonnes of public money (another N213 billion is to be handed out by the Central Bank of Nigeria) poured into power-related projects, this nation of 170 million people and this rebased economy of  N86 trillion is given a miserable 4000MW of electricity to live on; together with loads of boringly repetitive excuses, obfuscating explanations of shifting targets and hard-to-believe promises.

    Meanwhile, the better-managed nations of the world are moving on. This is outrageous and a shame.

    Right-thinking persons would agree that the Nigerian  market is so large that any transparent investment in power supply will earn good money. NERC and the private companies are so glaringly under-performing and failing this nation; they must get their acts together very quickly.

    Let it be stated that having suffered physical and psychological inconveniences, as well as being financially short-changed through estimated ‘crazy bills,’ absence of pre-paid meters and worse things,  Nigerians do not want  more ‘stories,’ nor do they care how it comes, be it hydro, coal or solar;  the bottom  is: let there be stable power supply at a fair price. This is the marching order to NERC, the relevant private companies, and the Federal Government.