Review of government policies as panache to oil, power sectors’ growth
The Nigeria power sector has been troubled by high technical losses, lack of cost recovery, vandalism, low equipment reliability, non- payments problem and mounting debt, which has resulted to job losses in the country.
To ameliorate these challenges, stakeholders at the World Stage Economic Summit 2016, in Lagos recently with the theme: “Addressing Unemployment Crisis in Nigeria, challenged the government to carry out a major review of its economic policies to put the power and oil sector on the path of progress.
Various speakers put onward the way forward to achieve sustaionable energy supply in the country, and ways to tackle the challenges being experienced along the energy value chain.
The Executive Director, Junior Achievement Nigeria, Barrister Sunday Oduntan, in his presentation ‘Getting The Power Sector Right To Boost Productivity, said the sector was facing some challenges that had made it unable to play its role as the engine of growth and job creation.
According to him, “The whole electricity supply chain still remain comatose; the promised increased generation and reliability as part of privatisation –has not happened; generation continued to hover in the mid-range of 3,000 to 4,000Megawatt; energy theft and meter bypassing are very rampant; and insufficient number of meters due to liquidity gap and massive shortfalls.”“Revenue gap from minor review must fully recognise the variance in forex applied by Gencos and drop in generation for six months,” he said.
Other milestones he prayed for include that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) debts must be paid, focus on transmission funding and security of power supply, cost-reflective tariffs for Distribution Companies (DISCOs). Also strong and independent regulator, continuous and sustained investment on electrical infrastructures particularly Transmission Company of Nigeria, aggressive metering across the board must be sustained.
The Director, Department of Petroleum Resources,( DPR), a petroleum industry regulator, Mordecai Ladan, represented by Manager, Planning, Kanmi Ayodeji, in a presentation titled: “Nigeria’s Oil & Gas Reforms- Boosting Indigenous Participation & Energy Security,” said current reforms, initiatives and strategic plans in the oil sector were capable of boosting economic growth and create jobs.
He mentioned reforms such as initiated the modular refinery strategy to boost domestic refining capacity, improve supply of petroleum products and create direct and ancillary jobs.
Moreover, he said automated operational processes of DPR had improved “transparency of government’s regulatory roles of the industry, effective administration of all critical operational and planning data and revenue for government and DPR.”
He said that the contribution of indigenous operators to production capacity is steadily increasing, adding that International Oil Companies (IOCs) asset divestment presents good opportunity for oil and gas reserves growth of indigenous operators.
Ladan noted that marginal field operators are progressively optimising reserves of inherited assets.He listed the Federal Government’s five years strategic reform growth to include encouraging growth of domestic refining capacity from 446 kbpsd to 1,146 kbpsd; promote through regulatory processes optimal availability of all downstream facilities; and drive for optimisation of capacity utilisation of all licensed refinery facilities.
Dr Femi Saibu of the Department of Economics, University of Lagos, Akoka, speaking on government’s direct employment policy, said it only created temporary jobs not employment at a greater cost while the series of youth entrepreneurship scheme across the country including ‘You Win’, he said always ended up in creating social media entrepreneur with no employment multiplier.
Moreover, he said the Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme had failed to achieve its objective as the funds were difficult to access and politicised, while “people see it as share of national cake and generate little if all employment.”
In his welcome address, the President/CEO, World Stage Limited, Segun Adeleye, said that the alarming rate of unemployment in Nigeria should not only be of great concern to the government, but also to the private sector and other critical stakeholders in the economy.
He said: “Though unemployment is a global problem, but for us in Nigeria, it is endemic, as our high population growth is out of proportion with the economic development and productivity.”
Adeleye called for the acceptance, promotion, and utilization of made by Nigeria goods, saying, “Look around us from what we are wearing to what we are using- they are almost all imported- which implies that as we are buying them, we are creating jobs for them in China and other places with nothing for us to do here. This is unacceptable, and it makes the WorldStage Economic Summit (WES) 2016 with the Theme: ‘Addressing the unemployment crisis in Nigeria’ very relevant.”
He explained that the theme of the summit was inspired by the need to identify and proffer solutions to the growing unemployment problem in the public and private sectors of Nigerian economy; “To identify the employment generation potentials of every sector of the economy from Agriculture, ICT, Maritime, banking & finance, mining, aviation, construction, oil and gas and others and then address what they need to realise their full potential; To help review the economic potentials of the state and local governments and arrive at sustainable development strategy for them to be economically viable with or without revenue from federation account; To assist government on policies to make the economy productive, globally competitive and generate jobs; To provide knowledge base for government on how to save billions of naira in revenue, diversify economy, create jobs and end the practice of committing the largest portion of income to the payment of civil servants’ salaries among others.”
He assured participants that the summit will not end like similar conferences on Nigeria with little or nothing to show for them, as it was already being pushed online and in the social media through the #WorldstageEconomicSummit2016 for the sake of other stakeholders that were not fully represented at the summit.