By Chinora Ugwu
Century Power, a subsidiary of the Obijackson Group, has reaffirmed its commitment to boosting Nigeria’s electricity generating capacity by 1,500 megawatts (MW) upon completion of its proposed power generation plant (Century Power Generation Plant) in Okija, Anambra State. The plant will be built in 3 phases, the first being 495MW, expected to be completed in 2020.
In a panel discussion at the MIT Energy Conference in the United States last week, the company’s Managing Director, Dr. Chukwueloka Umeh, averred that the challenges currently facing the power sector in Nigeria are surmountable and are being addressed by private sector initiatives.
According to him, “there are challenges facing each facet of the power value chain in the country, starting from gas generation all the way to electricity distribution, and in order to fix these, significant investment is needed. A large part of this investment will come from local and foreign investors, but the government must create favorable conditions in all these sub-sectors to ensure influx of these desperately needed investments. It cannot be business as usual”.
He added that Nigerians are entrepreneurial but we must have the right infrastructure to unlock the potential that we have been speaking about for decades. It is easy to see that we export timber, but import toothpicks simply because we do not have a steady and reliable supply of electricity to allow SMEs manufacture goods locally at competitive prices, thereby creating jobs for the growing unemployed population. The population worry about tariff increases, but do not realize that they actually pay much higher tariffs by generating their own power with petrol or diesel powered generators”.
On renewable energy, he said that what Nigeria still needs are large baseload plants, with the capacity to generate from 100MW and above. Renewables are essential to help preserve the environment, and sources such as hydro are definitely good to have in the power mix. However, currently available gas turbine technologies come with higher efficiencies, which make them a sustainable source of power without negatively impacting the environment. Gas-fired gas turbine plants operating in open cycle or combined cycle mode are currently the best option for Nigeria to quickly boost its baseload power output to a reasonable number because they can be developed, built and commissioned in 3 to 6 years”.
“Century Power Limited, like the other organizations in the Obijackson Group, is keen on contributing to thedevelopment of Nigeria. The country needs all the power it can get to pull it out of the doldrums of suppressed organic economic development”, said Dr. Umeh.
He added that “Much work needs to be done, and can only be achieved if the government sees private sector investors as the true catalysts for economic development that they are, and creates appropriate policies to aid sectoral development, as well as provides a favorable climate for such investments, while concluding that “without a robust power industry, providing a steady and reliable supply of power to the country, the much talked about potential of Nigeria will never be realized”