The Federal Government’s planned addition of 20,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid received a boost Thursday when Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, works and housing announced that about 340 megawatts of electricity would be added to the national grid by December, 2017.
Fashola said this during his inspection tour of Afam Power Plant in Oyibo local government area of Rivers as part of Federal Government Power Sector Recovery Programme.
He said the 340 megawatts of electricity would be generated from Afam power plant alone while another 270 megawatts would be generated from same facility before end of 2018. According to him, the Afam facility has about 1,000 megawatts of installed capacity, which has underperformed due to years of neglect by previous governments.
“We think that we will add 240 megawatts and another 100 megawatts before December with addition of 276 megawatts in 2018 from Afam power plant alone,” he said.
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Fashola said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration inherited debt running into billions owed to companies which supplied gas to power plants in the country, that the Federal Executive Council had approved N701 billion in March with focus to settle the debts through a Power Payment Assurance Programme arrangement with gas companies.
The minister said the federal government was discussing with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to separate old debts under the power payment assurance programme initiative that would ensure availability of gas.
“Now that there is a payment assurance programme we are assuring that every gas that would be supplied to Afam and others would be paid for.
“General Electric has come in to invest in power while we equally want more investors because there is a lot of gas deposit to tap from,” he said.
He said that government had engaged the World Bank and other development partners aimed to successful implementation of the Power Sector Recovery Programme.
Currently generation output has hovered between 3,000 to 4,000 megawatts, with latest peak figure being 4,600 megawatts.
Power watchers however say the planned increases are too small for a country like Nigeria with over 170 million people, that the government should focus more on achieving 40,000 megawatts to meet its electricity needs.
They said gas, hydro and renewable energy are the most feasible sources of power generation, asking the government to leverage them for growth.
Poor infrastructure had hindered past administrations’ plan to provide regular power supply.