VICE President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday spoke of plans by the Federal Government to encourage private firms to supply power to end users.
Delivering theC of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) titled: “Nigeria rising: The path to prosperity” at the J.F Ade Ajayi Auditorium, Prof Osinbajo said more than 2000 megawatts of the 8100 megawatts being generated could not be distributed by the Distribution Companies (DisCos).
He blamed the DISCOs’ inability to distribute the power on what he described as their failure to invest.
He said: “We have moved generation from 4,000 to 8,100 MW. But the effect of this increase in generation has not translated significantly to better service to the consumer. This is mainly due to distribution challenges. Over 2,000 MW of power is not taken up by the discos for distribution to consumers, largely because of problems they experience in collection of tariff.
“But one of the reasons for this is the fact that the DisCos have not invested significantly in metering. We have now embarked on a major metering initiative – The Metering Assets Programme — which involves private metering Assets providers.
“In addition, the Federal Government has in the past 18 months taken the deficiencies in transmission head on. Through the TCN and the NDPHC, we are completing transmission projects all around the country.”
Osinbajo said the government was experimenting on the decentralisation of power production with the Independent Power Projects (IPP).
The vice president said: “The more important strategy is to decentralise power production. So, we have adopted an off grid programme, which means that we are encouraging private investors to collaborate with government to build IPPs and supply power to willing buyers. This was made possible by what is called an eligible customer declaration by the Ministry of Power, Works & Housing.
“By this collaboration, we have been providing power, especially solar power, to economic clusters such as markets across the country, including, Ariaria Market in Aba (31,993 shops); Sabongari Market in Kano (13,598 shops); Sura Market in Lagos (1047); Isikan ( 493); NEPA (256); Gbagi (8,778) and UMBC (2178). In all, 81, 691 shops are servicing 320,000 SMEs.
“In Lagos, we recently inaugurated the Sura market solar project. The businesses there now have 24-hour power supply. From printers, commercial tailors to small chop businesses, everyone is employing more and making more profit.”
In business, Osinbajo said Nigeria had moved up 24 places in the ranking of countries with ease of doing business, adding that there were plans to concession the airport and increasingly get government off running business.
He said: “Nigeria has also made appreciable progress in improving the business environment. We improved our position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rankings by 24 places over a three year period. And we were adjudged one of the 10 best reforming economies in the world.
“Also worthy of note is the fact that there has been an increased presence of foreign companies in Nigeria. I am told that the number of Japanese companies operating in Nigeria has increased by over one-quarter over the past three years while those from Norway have more than doubled in the same period. Allianz, the largest insurance company in the world, has started operations in Nigeria after buying into a local firm while Coca-Cola has bought up the remaining shares in Chi Industries that it did not own. These reforms are expected over the next four years and in which sectors.
“We plan to complete the concession of our airports for increased efficiency and alignment with global standards; and establish the National Trading Platform to encompass a more sophisticated single window platform, scanners and a ports community portal for goods being imported into and exported out of the country,” he said.
On education, Osinbajo said the government was working on a new curriculum that would drive learning of the skills needed for the technology-enabled workspace.
He said: “Our technology agenda is premised on our new educational curriculum, which emphasises STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).
“We are currently developing that curriculum with the support of global players like MIT, Cisco, IBM and Oracle – a nationwide curriculum that incorporates 21st century STEAM thinking: coding, design skills, digital arts, robotics, and machine learning, and so on.
“The curriculum will cover primary to secondary education. The arts component of that vision is extremely important to us. Visual arts, dance, music, film and theatre, comedy, literature – these and many more are fields in which Nigeria has proved to the world that it is full of talents and originality and ambition.
“At the highest levels of the government in Abuja, we are creating opportunities to engage with artists to better understand how we can, as a government, support you to succeed.
“We believe that like technology entertainment and the arts require active support, especially in the development of policies as we engage uncharted territory in the coming years. Consequently the President directed that we establish a technology and creativity advisory group, to work on and formulate policies in these very dynamic spaces. We have had about three meetings so far.”
At the event, which was chaired by Chief Arthur Mbanefo, who was Pro-Chancellor of the university 35 years ago, were Vice Chancellor Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, Pro-Chancellor/Chairman of Council Wale Babalakin; Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi; Niger Delta Affairs Minister Usani Uguru Usani; Tertiary Education Trust Fund Executive Secretary Prof Elias Bogoro; University of Lagos Alumni Association President John Momoh and former UNILAG Alumni President, Olorogun Sunny Kuku, among others.