‘Solutions to power sector overhaul are not going to be nice’ – El Rufai

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The Nigerian government will consider an overhaul of the private power sector, government officials said following the National Economic Council meeting on Thursday.

The power sector was privatized in 2013, but some 80 million Nigerians remain without access to power, and elsewhere the grid is plagued by frequent blackouts, leaving businesses and consumers reliant on power generators.

“The entire sector is broken,” Kaduna state Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai said following the meeting.

The NEC passed a resolution at Thursday’s meeting that the privatization of the sector needed to be re-examined.

“Solutions must be found; those solutions are not going to be nice,” he said.

Plans to build privately financed power stations have been railroaded in recent years by concerns about persistent shortfalls in payments for electricity across the sector.

Currently, the government-owned Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) buys power from generators and passes it on to distributors who then collect money from customers and reimburse NBET.

But because NBET is not paid in full for the power it buys, private power generators have been partly reimbursed from an emergency central bank loan fund created to keep the sector afloat.

El-Rufai said the government had supported the sector with 1.7 trillion naira ($5.56 billion) over the past three years. He said the NEC was listening to all stakeholders and called on Nigerians to withhold judgment until the NEC issued its final report.

Reuters