Following the incessant collapse of the national grid and persistent power outages across the country, as well as consideration of a report of the Senate Committee on Power, the upper legislative chamber has passed the Electricity Bill 2022.
Chairman of the Committee, Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue North East), in his presentation, said the bill seeks to, among other things, provide an ideal legal and institutional framework to leverage the modest gains of the privatisation phase of the country’s electric power sector.
He said when signed finally into law, the bill will improve utilisation of generated power through increased investments in new technologies to enhance transmission and distribution of generated power to minimise aggregate value chain losses.
Suswam, who maintained that the legislation would revive the institutional framework for the reform of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), as initiated and implemented by the Federal Government, disclosed that the provisions of the bill seek to promote policies and regulatory measures that would ensure the expansion of power transmission networks to address any imbalance in the existing transmission infrastructure.
He further noted that the bill would stimulate policy and regulatory measures to scale up efficient power generation, transmission and distribution capability of the sector, as well as address technological limitations and outdated infrastructure that had been responsible for the huge losses in the electricity value chain.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, who interjected midway through consideration of the bill, sought to know the role and operational capacity of banks that had taken over distribution companies (DisCos) indebted to them.
But responding, Suswam explained that the banks’ intervention in the DisCos was done in collaboration with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).
According to him, there was a transitional process put in place during the take-over of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) by the United Bank for Africa (UBA) to ensure efficiency in its service delivery.
He noted that such transitional process usually involves the invitation of new investors to scale up generation and distribution capacities, adding that the Federal Government had disbursed about $100 million to Siemens to facilitate transmission in the distribution end of the power sector.
On his part, Senator Ahmad Babba-Kaita (PDP-Katsina North), who said the faulty way in which the DisCos were created was largely responsible for their inability to live up to expectations, urged the Federal Government to ensure a transparent process in the selection of the companies to take-over power generation and distribution across the country.
Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC-Niger North), noted that the aspect of renewable energy in the bill was given prominence amidst the energy mix.
After a clause-by-clause consideration of the Committee’s report on the Electricity Bill 2022 by the Committee of the Whole, it was passed in the upper chamber.
Speaking shortly after the passage of the bill, Lawan, said: “Because of its importance and sensitivity, we would like to see a quick concurrence by the House of Representatives, because time is of essence, as far as issues of electricity and energy supplies are concerned in Nigeria.
“So, we would like to see that this bill is fully processed in the National Assembly and sent to the Executive arm of government for the consideration for assent by President Muhammadu Buhari. We believe that this piece of legislation could change the fortunes of the country’s electricity industry for the better.”