The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has said the country will need about 160,000 megawatts in order to reach the globally accepted standards and satisfy the demand for stable power supply for the 170 million Nigerians.
Nebo, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Igali, stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at the workshop on the Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) funded NAPTIN NGSDP Programme for Graduates under the Technical Vocational Education and Training Project (TVET), Ministry of Labour And Productivity in collaboration with the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN).
The minister said that the power sector reforms was gradually yielding results as the government receives commendation and investments interests on regular basis from all over the world.
He said the country is currently producing 4,500mw, which is an improvement from what it used to be but noted that Nigeria needs at minimum be at par with South Africa and other global economic players.
“Everyday without exception, we receive commendation and we are working to ensure that at least we are at par with South Africa and others. We need about 160,000mw but as at now, we are still at 4,500mw,” he said.
Therefore, he noted, the power sector is the foundation of Nigeria’s development and that is why a lot of Nigerians are going into it, taking advantage of the law that allows independent power stations.
Nebo emphasised on the need to triple the number of young Nigerian engineers, adding that apart from the ones being trained under the SURE-P programme, more would be required to accelerated the ongoing reforms in the sector.
“We need young hands and people that are knowledgeable. We need to train more young people; electronic engineers, mechanical engineers, accountants, and energy economists, amongst others,” he said.
According to the minister, the problem with the Nigerian power sector was that the it has been monopolized by the central government “since it started in 1880s when the first generator came in Nigeria.”
Nebo said: “In 2010 government brought a roadmap that unbundled it and there is a substantial increase, a geometric increase to 4,500 even though its not yet uhuru. However, more are being added at Egbin, Ugheli, Kainji and Shiroro. We may not see the impact immediately as new equipments are supplied
“If we look at the best global standard for energy consumption, we are going gradually. Its not going to be overnight, the banks almost gave all they have and this is the first time in Nigeria, that almost all the money is generated from the country, and before for 19 years no engineer was employed. So this scheme alone we will be training engineers”.
In the same vein, the Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Power, Mr. Clement Oke, said there has been phenomenal change in the country since the power sector reform.
Oke, who was represented by Mr. Chike Madueke, vowed that there is no going back on the reform, which he said, was adjudged as one of the best in the world.
“This sector has gotten to a threshold and there is no going back. My worry however, is that so much are being achieved that are not being said, allowing the opposition to ridicule government’s efforts. I therefore commend SURE-P for taking this bold initiative”, he said.
Earlier, the Convener, SURE-P TVET Subcommittee, Comrade Peter Essele, said the programme is part of the federal government’s commitment to reducing unemployment, and geared towards the mitigation of the immediate effect of subsidy discontinuation on the poor and vulnerable.
In the power sector, Essele said, the committee relied on the skill-for-jobs demand analysis carried out by NAPTIN to develop a training programme targeting young mechanical and electrical engineers.
He revealed that NAPTIN’s job market analysis estimated that about 8,000 young engineers and technologists would be required to support the power transformation of the current administration including various stages of power generation, distribution and transmission activities in the power sector.
According to the former Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, this also translates to 8,000 job opportunities waiting to be taken up in the power sector following the transformational privatisation exercise recently concluded by the federal government.
He said: “As at today, the first batch of 220 young mechanical/electrical engineering graduates are currently being sponsored by SURE-P and will be graduating in March this year, and a 2nd batch of 150 would be going in for the same training by February this year as well.
“We had projected in our take-off work plan that these young engineers upon graduation from NAPTIN training would be immediately employed upon program completion. However, we seem to be at cross road as there are commitments for employment so far extracted from the companies whom we had provided this human resources for.”