The consequences of this self-destructive​ and lawless action by the NCS is that cost of solar power installations have now become more expensive and difficult to access.

FG Promoting Darkness in Nigeria Through Wrong and Cut Throat policies!
Ken Obi
The Federal Government is out of its depth in resolving the electricity crisis in the country, and is rather making the bad situation worse through faulty policy directions, cutthroat measures, and disincentives which further compound the problems.

According to Rural Electrification Agency (REA), ‘about one hundred million Nigerians,​ ie 75% of total population are not connected to national grid, 63 million of this population do not live within a 1-km radius of the nearest electricity pole.’ Also, according to the latest ‘Power Generation Report’ by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, released on 9 April this year, 8 out of Nigeria’s 27 power plants were at a time shut down due to gas, line and frequency management constraints.

These facts suffice to consider electricity policy alternatives that de-emphasise having all Nigerians on the national grid, but rather concentrate more on renewable, off-grid solutions which are easier and more flexible to deploy, which serve the purpose providing electricity well and are eco-friendly.

Regrettably, the Nigerian Customs Service (NC​S​) has imposed a 5 to 10% import duty on solar panels necessary for deploying electricity by solar system. This new imposition is a disincentive to spreading electricity accessibility for Nigerians ​and an outright contravention and violation of Federal Government law: CET Code 8541.4010.00 — a law that puts import duty on solar panels at 0% in order to encourage wider adoption of alternative, renewable sources of electricity, with focus on solar energy.

The consequences of this self-destructive​ and lawless action by the NCS is that cost of solar power installations have now become more expensive and difficult to access. This is stifling the operation of an industry that is supposed to provide an alternative for alleviating Nigeria’s poor electric power woes.

Despite outcries, and repeated calls to draw the Federal Government’s attention to this anomaly, the FG has remained mute and unconcerned. CRJ suspects that the FG may be deliberately killing the solar energy sector, in order to promote the use of generator sets depite its high cost of fueling and maintenance, aside toxic fumes and other environmental health hazards associated with their continued usage. By killing the solar energy market the FG is consciously or unwittingly protecting the interests of generator-import industry. This further begs the question, whether the present FG has its priorities right.
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CRJ is of the view that as a country we should be focusing on decentralising access to electricity from the national grid, by encouraging off-grid solutions like solar​, wind,​ and other forms of renewable energy sources; as well as deploying embedded power, which handles power generation, transmission, and distribution within specified locations.

​The Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola in February this year called for ideas from the public on what to do with 2,000 Megawatts of ‘stranded power’; a situation where electricity is generated but wastes because of the compromised state of our national grid which lacks the capacity to transmit same to all nooks and crannies of the federation. Nothing emphasises the need for alternative options more than this.

The Federal Government should be committed to giving tax holidays to the alternative energy sector, and to encourage them with other incentives. We want Nigeria to be the African hub for alternative energy. We shall train manpower at all levels of the value chain, producing numerous technicians, researchers, installers, etc in order to create a market for easy and readily-available access to alternative source of energy.

CRJ wants the FG to grant incentives to operators in the generator import business to switch over to solar and other alternative sources of decentralised clean energy, which are obviously more beneficial.

Investments in the national grid have not yielded us value for money in decades. It is best to focus on the alternative solution which is working well for others. If the sector would not be encouraged and supported, it is better to let it be than to kill it.

The other danger in having and executing this incoherent electricity energy policy is, it stands to derail Nigeria’s plan to generate 30% of electricity through renewables by 2030.

 *Citizens for Righteousness and Social Justice (CRJ)*
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