For Nigerians to benefit from uninterrupted power supply, the government must invest in the right infrastructural backbone that will enable the county generate and distribute sufficient power for all Nigerians.
The 2nd Vice President, Nigerian Gas Association, Mrs. Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, who made the remark in an interview in Lagos, also said Nigerians must be ready to pay for the cost of electricity, in order to encourage power generation and distribution.
According to her, “Power will be readily available when we have the right infrastructural backbone, and we do not have it currently, which of course demands heavy investments.
The funds require to drive the investment must also come commensurate with the return on investment, but the current pricing does not support that.”
She added: “Nigerians need to understand that our economy has been battered for too long and we are trying to remedy it, it is surely going to be very costly at the beginning and that is the reality. When Nigerians were clamouring for fuel subsidy and wanted government to continue to subsidise the cost of fuel, we were buying fuel at black market at thrice the actual pump price because the product suddenly became scarce. But when the sector was deregulated and fuel subsidy was removed, we had enough fuel to buy at the filling stations at the approved pump price and we are all conformable with it. That is the same thing that should happen in the power sector.”
Joe-Ezigbo explained that investors that were looking at investing several billions of dollars in the power sector, would want to look at what is on ground currently, which does not make good business sense for investment.
“From that point of view, we had to push for willing buyer, willing seller, where it makes good business sense for the producer, the investor and the government as well,” she said.
She further explained that the current electricity bills being paid by consumers were too low to command higher returns on investment.
On the part of the consumer who thinks otherwise that the cost of electricity is too high, I think it is a legacy issue because in the power sector for instance, we came from an era where we think that government must provide everything, therefore there are lots of power wastage, power theft and redundancy.
People do not want to pay for the electricity bills that they consume, because they want it to be supplied free of charge by government, she said.
“People have argued that power is supposed to be cheap, and I can only agree with them, if the country had developed enough infrastructure in the past. But in the face of the huge deficit in infrastructure that we have and the huge cost it will take to address it, then I will say power is not expensive yet,” Joe-Ezigbo added.
We need to take it to a point where the investor is making a good return on investment, so that the investor is free to expand the investment and increase the infrastructural backbone, and this will make the end user to have variety of options.
Ultimately, when we build the infrastructural backbone, the next necessary step is to begin to work on the downward review of the prices of electricity, she stressed.