Nigeria people’s manifesto: Power & water

Posted on Friday, 8 April 2011 16:41

As elections approach, The Africa Report canvassed Nigerians from across the country for their top priorities. We will be publishing seven people’s manifesto points ahead of the presidential poll, now scheduled for 16 April.

New power stations need to be built, old ones rehabilitated, and refineries freed from political control. Santitation will no longer be an afterthought for town planners.

Debilitating, sclerotic and economically suicidal, the lack of reliable electricity in Africa’s biggest oil and gas producer is the one national scandal on which activists and mainstream politicians agree. Consultant Mercy Maduabuchi and Martin Udogie, publisher of BottomLINE, want a strategic focus on power generation and the management structures needed to reform it.

For Sunny Agboju at PROT Consulting, a specific action plan for power and transport is necessary to kickstart the economy: “The significance of power is obvious to all. If all the next government can achieve is an uninterrupted power supply, a lot of other things will fall into place.”?

A few comparative statistics show the scale of the problem: South Africa’s government concedes it has to tackle a major electricity deficit and has been rationing power over the past three years with periodic blackouts and brownouts. Its state power company, Eskom, has launched a massive US$40bn investment programme over the next five years; currently Eskom has an installed generation capacity of 39,000MW (average production is around 35,000MW) to serve the country’s 49 million people.

Nigeria, the second biggest economy in Africa after South Africa, suffers from prolonged power cuts and almost all the major industries have built their own (extremely costly) independent generating capacity. Nigeria has an installed generating capacity of some 6,500MW for its more than 150 million people, according to Adeola

Adenikinju at the University of Ibadan’s economic analysis unit. Energy ministry officials told The Africa Report that the power actually generated often falls below 4,000MW.

Adenikinju argues that to fix the power crisis requires a dedicated investment programme averaging $10bn a year for the next 20 years. Even more importantly, it requires a sweeping restructuring of the sector and the accountability to ensure that the money is spent on the-right capital equipment and on maintenance.

Shocking as that sum sounds, it would still be cheaper than the cost of not investing in power, according to Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi, whose research department estimates that Nigeria spends some N2.5trn (US$16bn) on fuel a year to run its private generators.

Read more from the people’s manifesto on Jobs, Security, Power & water, Land, Health, Reform, and Education

This article was first published in the April 2011 edition of The Africa Report

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