Nigeria has hosted a West Africa Power Summit.

June 25, 2015 Energy industry players, experts and government officials recently met for two days in Lagos for the West Africa Power Summit, where they discussed the challenges and possible solutions to improving the electricity supply in the region, as well as the right steps to take in securing more investments in the sector. It is recalled that ECOWAS member states launched the West African Power Pool (WAPP) as a cooperation of national electricity companies from member countries, and intended to establish a more reliable grid by leveraging the region’s joint resources.

Barth NnajiNigeria‘s former power minister said that the integration process is coming on slowly but surely, with the major challenge being that pooling power is not yet feasible because members are not producing power at the same levels. He said:

“There needs to be power to pool. You cannot be talking about power pool without power, and countries are hungry for power now. Countries that can’t produce the power like Nigeria, like Ghana and all those other countries, they are not producing the power yet so they need to produce the power to be able to pool the power, to be able to regulate the power, to be able to have powers going to communities,”

The former energy minister also addressed why the hand over in Nigeria to state owned distribution firms and private buyers has done little to better the energy crisis:

“A lot of the distribution companies have filed for force majeure that means that they see there is a problem. Why? Because of regulatory uncertainty. They feel that what they saw from the regulatory commission at the beginning when they were bidding is not what they are getting now. So a regulator needs to just be stable and moving forward so that people have confidence in the regulator. It’s part of the problem. Then some of the investors may have thought it was just a place to go and make money, but it’s not. It’s a lot of work. Distribution of electricity is the hardest work,”

Anurag Dharmawat, manager at Indian power infrastructure company Genus, said good metering would cut down on fraud and increase efficiency for such companies. He said

“Once the distribution company is able to reduce their losses… the major problem here I just discussed with some of the members that they are facing about 50 percent of losses. So the moment they are able to reduce it to say 20 percent or 15 percent, majority of the power crisis will go away,”

If Nigeria overcomes this electricity problem, it would reduce business costs by up to 40 percent, add 3 percent to GDP and inspire a boom in many sectors.

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