Senate passes electricity bill to boost power distribution

The senate on Wednesday July 20, passed the Electricity Bill, 2022, which is sequel to the consideration of a report by the Committee on Power.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue North East) who spoke in support of the bill, said the bill will provide an Ideal legal and institutional framework to leverage the modest gains of the privatisation phase of the electric power sector in Nigeria among other things. 

He also said that it would improve utilisation of generated power through increased investments in new technologies to enhance transmission and distribution of generated power to minimise aggregate value chain loses.

This according to him, will “reinvigorate the Institutional framework for the reform of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry initiated and implemented by the Federal Government.”

Punch reported that he also said provisions of the bill seek to promote policies and regulatory measures that would ensure the expansion of power transmission networks in Nigeria in order to address any imbalance in the existing transmission infrastructure.

Suswam concluded by saying the bill would stimulate policy and regulatory measures to scale up efficient power generation, transmission and distribution capabilities of the sector; as well as address technological limitations and outdated infrastructure that are responsible for value chain loses.

When Senate President Ahmad Lawan sought to know the role and operational capacity of banks that had taken over distribution companies (discos) indebted to them, Suswam responded by saying the take-over of entities (Discos) by banks was duly carried out in collaboration with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NER) and Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE).

He noted that there’s a transitional process put in place during the take-over of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company by the United Bank for Africa to ensure efficiency in service delivery.

The Benue lawmaker who said such transitional process usually involves the invitation of new investors to scale up generation and distribution capacities, added that the Federal Government had disbursed $100 million (USD) to Siemens to kickstart transmission in the distribution end of the power sector.

Senator Ahmad Babba-Kaita (PDP – Katsina North) on his own part said the faulty way in which Discos were created was largely responsible for their inability to live up to expectations.

He advised the federal government to ensure a transparent process in the selection of companies to take-over power generation and distribution across the country.

Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC – Niger North) also said that the aspect of renewable energy in the bill was given prominence amidst the energy mix.

The Electricity Bill, 2022, after a clause-by-clause consideration of the Committee’s report by the Committee of the Whole, was passed by the upper chamber.

Speaking after the bill was passed, 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 Nigeria is concerned when you talk about electricity and energy supplies in Nigeria.

“So, we would like to see that this bill is fully processed in the National Assembly and sent to the Executive side of government for the consideration for assent by Mr. President.

“We believe that this piece of legislation can change the fortunes of the electricity industry in Nigeria for the better.”

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