Nigeria backs mini grids to end power shortage

Nigeria will be looking to operators in its emerging mini grid electricity sub-sector to break up the monopoly enjoyed by its electricity distribution companies (Discos), as well as end incessant power shortage.

The country’s federal government said on Tuesday in Abuja that it will be backing mini grid operators to provide more power to consumers who do not have power supplied to them yet or do not have enough.

The government also insisted the Discos have largely failed to meet the electricity demands of Nigeria’s population. Data from the country’s power sector regulator – the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) indicate more than 50 per cent of the population do not have power from the national grid yet.

Based on this, the government explained that it has provided a number of policy frameworks to support the development of mini grid power supplies in Nigeria.

It urged mini grid operators at a breakfast meeting in Abuja where a new report on financing off-grid energy projects in Nigeria was presented by the Nigerian Renewable Energy Roundtable (NiRER), to leverage the policy supports from it to provide more electricity to Nigerians.

The NiRER is an offshoot of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) which prepared the report with Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI).

The breakfast meeting was held on the sidelines of the ongoing 2018 edition of the annual Nigeria Economic Summit.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Power, Mr. Louis Edozie, said at the meeting that Discos have not met the increasing demands for power by Nigerians.

He said they should on the basis of this be open to negotiate with operators and investors in mini grid power supplies to provide power to Nigerians.

He explained in response to a complaint an official of Eko Disco, Mr. George Etomi, made at the meeting that mini grid operators were illegally encroaching on the franchise networks of the Discos, saying that the Discos have not lived up to expectations, while some of their customers rely on alternative power supplies.

“Sadly, you are not serving them to their satisfaction. So, let us give the customer, an option. If independents are willing to come in nobody said you should not benefit from that person coming in, and I think the policy allows for that discussion that you mentioned where the benefits can also be discussed.

“But the important thing is to get the customers satisfied with the service that he is willing to pay for,” Edozie, said.

Edozie, also said: “So, let the industry look at the customers, satisfy the customers at the price it is willing to pay, then all the solution providers sit together and see how to divide the benefits because the policy – the mini grid policy, allows that.”

“And, I don’t think the policy should be so specific that it prescribes how this discussion should go, no! It is for the developers, the Discos knowing there is a willing customer who wants to be better-provided, to sit down, discuss case by case and come up with a solution that works for them; shares the benefits equitably and satisfies the customer,” he added while stating there are support regulations and tax rebates operators in the sector could take advantage of.