April 15, 2024

 Nigeria electricity crisis: Top priorities for Bayo Adelabu, new Power Minister, as experts, advocacy groups make recommendation 

Adebayo Adelabu, Minister of Power

Oredola Adeola

 

As Nigeria grapples with the ongoing challenges in the power sector, experts and advocacy groups have highlighted quick fixes and policies that Mr. Adebayo Adelabu, the newly appointed Power Minister, needs to entrench to achieve substantial success in the sector and support Nigeria’s economy.

 

This charge by critical stakeholders is coming as a formal way of introducing and welcoming Mr. Adelabu who brings a wealth of experience to his new role as Power Minister, as a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, with a very strong background in finance and strategy, notwithstanding his political exposure.

 

Nigeria has been facing an energy crisis for many years, with inadequate electricity supply producing less than 5000MW for a population of over 200 million people since the country’s return to democratic rule.

 

The energy crisis is attributed to various factors, including poor governmental policies, lack of funding to develop new energy sources or maintain old ones, and infrastructure deficit, especially in the transmission and distribution network.

 

Despite the availability of over 13,000MW of electricity, Nigeria can only deliver 4,000MW on average to buildings such as homes and businesses due to transmission and distribution network issues. As a result, all eyes are on Mr. Adelabu to address these issues

 

EnergyDay’s investigation reveals a long list of previous power ministers, including Bola Ige, Mines and Power (1999–2000) Ibrahim Bunu (1999-2001), Mohammed Abba Gana (2001-2003), Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai (2003-2007), Aliyu Modibbo Umar (2007-2008), Rilwanu Lukman (2008-2010), Bart Nnaji (2010-2011), Chinedu Nebo (2011-2015) Babatunde Fashola (2015-2019), Sale Mamman (2019-2021) and Engr. Abubakar Aliyu (2021-2023), has grappled with the complexities of the power sector without significant progress.

 

Adebayo Adelabu brings a wealth of experience to his new role as Power Minister, as a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and a prominent Nigerian politician, he has a strong background in finance and strategy.

 

He started his career at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, where he spent seven years overseeing a range of audit and consultancy projects for prominent banks and non-bank financial institutions both within and outside Nigeria. In 1999, he was seconded to the Central Bank of Nigeria for a year, during which he headed the finance team for the CBN’s transformative initiative, “Project EAGLES.”

 

After his stint at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2000, he transitioned to First Atlantic Bank as the Financial Controller and Group Head of Risk Management and Controls.

 

He rose through the ranks, achieving the position of Chief Inspector in 2002 and Group Head of National Public Sector Business in 2003. Later, he joined Standard Chartered Bank as the West African Regional Head of Finance and Strategy for the Consumer Banking Business, stationed between Lagos and Accra. By 2009, he had moved on to become the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of Nigeria’s largest bank, First Bank of Nigeria Plc., at the age of 39.

 

In February 2014, former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan appointed Adebayo as the Deputy Governor of Operations at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Adelabu’s contributions extend to his role as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Nigeria InterBank Settlement Systems (NIBBS), and his chairmanship of the Financial Institution Training Centre (FITC) board.

 

He actively serves on the boards of the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), the Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Company (NSPMC), the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), and the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL).

 

Adelabu’s previous positions in prominent banks and financial institutions, both within and outside Nigeria, have equipped him with the necessary skills to navigate the complexities of the power sector.

 

EXPERTS SUGGESTIONS TO ADELABU

 

To avoid repeating the mistakes of his predecessors, experts are urging Adelabu to conduct a thorough study of the power sector, familiarize himself with industry studies, and build upon the successes of his predecessors.

 

They also recommend that Adelabu actively engage with private sector players who have industry knowledge and experience, tapping into valuable insights and strategies to drive the sector forward, as well as consolidating on the power sector successes of previous administrations, collaborate with subnational power sector investment and ensure that the new Electricity Act is effectively implemented.

 

Additionally, Adelabu has been advised to prioritize becoming a fast learner, committing to advancing the new Electricity Act, and reviewing critical decisions such as review of the power sector privatization,  the Nigeria-Siemens Presidential Power Initiative (PPI) project, and liaising with the Minister of State for Gas, expand the scope of the Nigeria Energy Transition plan. 

 

Akinyemi Akingbade, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Nigeria, advised the new Minister of Power, to prioritize the acquisition and installation of SCADA-DMS to improve the efficiency of both the distribution and transmission infrastructure.
He said, “This would provide real-time access to monitor and control transmission and distribution infrastructure remotely. Akingbade also suggested that the Minister should engender a harmonious relationship between the state government and the subnational’s participation in the power sector, particularly in the operations and coverage of the DisCos.
“The Minister should also follow through on the targets set for metering, as well as allowing the market forces to drive the process. He needs to also ensure that NERC intervenes effectively by addressing the foreign exchange needed to complete the transaction of imported prepaid meters and their components.
He recommended that the Minister should, as a matter of priority, set up a power sector round table to bring together all stakeholders, including NERC, DISCOS, TCN, GENCOS, power sector consultants, and other technical players to broadly look at the issues facing the sector and come up with a white paper to address the sector.
Mr. Akingbade stated that the true picture of the Nigeria-Siemens deal should be made known to Nigerians and that the concerns of the Discos (electricity distribution companies) should be addressed, ensuring that all major stakeholders in the value chain are fully on board.
Finally, Akingbade urged the Minister to address the issue of power transmission and investigate why frequent power collapses still occur despite improvements in power generation.

 

Adetayo Adegbemle, the Executive Director of PowerUp Initiatives for Electricity Rights (PowerUp Nigeria), has set an agenda for the new Minister of Power, emphasizing the need to build and consolidate on the successes of the power sector and review some decisions.

 

He suggested that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) should be an independent regulatory commission, free from political interference and that individuals who have shown commitment to the growth of the power sector should be brought in.

 

Adegbemle also suggested that the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI) should function as a desk in the Ministry of Power to handle bilateral relationships with companies like Siemens, rather than as an agency, which would increase overhead costs and duplicate tasks.

 

 

Adegbemle also emphasized the need to align the new wheeling capacity being achieved by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and their numerous projects with the off-takers in the Distribution Companies (Discos).

 

 

He suggested that the focus should be on harnessing the present over N50 billion available to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria spent on alternative energy into the national grid.

 

 

He, therefore, recommended the establishment of the local Metering Ecosystem and local Metering Standards, according to him will ultimately lead to deepening our Local Meter manufacturing capacities, removing the Foreign Exchange components in Meter pricing, increasing/creating employment, and ultimately solving our local metering problems.

 

Adegbemle also highlighted the need to address the problem of market liquidity, which has become a perennial problem for the power sector, by solving metering issues to limit industry-wide stunted growth.

 

He suggested that local metering standards should be established to ultimately lead to deepening local meter manufacturing capacities, removing the foreign exchange components in meter pricing, increasing/creating employment, and ultimately solving local metering problems.

 

He said, “Without knowing what our demands look like will only make us continue to make abstract plans that will continue to fail. We cannot continue to extrapolate with scientific data to make sensible decisions.

 

Adegbemle, therefore, emphasised that power sector challenges can be addressed in four years if there is the political will to proceed. He also hammered on National Interest First as a fundamental requirement for decision-making in the power sector. 

 

Mr. Emeka Ojoko, Executive Coordinator of NEPA Wahala, an electricity consumers’ rights group, praised Mr. Adelabu’s Curriculum Vitae (CV) as an experienced administrator who can manage the issues in the power sector.

 

However, he pointed out that Adelabu has zero experience in the power sector, which means that informed decision-making in the Nigerian power sector will be left in the hands of career civil servants.

 

Ojoko said, “These civil servants have supervised Nigeria’s downward spiral in power generation, transmission, and distribution since the tenure of former Power Minister Babatunde Fashola, who was also a distinguished lawyer with zero experience in the power sector.

 

Therefore, Ojoko urged Mr. Adelabu to learn the rudiments of the power sector quickly and become an intuitive thinker and man-manager whose learning curve does not cost Nigeria too dearly in its quest for improved nationwide electricity.

 

Professor Magnus Onuoha, President of the Governing Council of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Associations (REEEA-Alliance), praised President Tinubu for the appointment of Mr. Adelabu as the new Minister of Power in Nigeria.

 

He described Mr. Adelabu as a technocrat who has left excellent footprints in the sand of time and expressed confidence that he will bring the energy and effusiveness expected of young men to tackle the daunting challenges of energy poverty in Nigeria.

 

Professor Onuoha emphasized that it is time for all stakeholders, including the REA, to work with the Federal Minister of Power to deepen industry collaboration and engagement and for state governments to deliver energy access and security for Nigeria.

 

He said, “The REEEAA is ready to collaborate with the Ministry by providing continuous regulatory support services, and their 9-solution driven plan, which has been unveiled, will be available to the new minister.

 

He, therefore, noted that over 90% of the new Electricity Act delves into Renewable Energy and Energy Efficient sources, which might interest the new minister to know.