Reactions trail bill seeking to ban importation of generators

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Following a recent bill seeking to ban the importation of generators into Nigeria, introduced by Sen. Bima Enagi, representing Niger South Senatorial District, in the Nigerian Senate, some energy stakeholders in the nation’s economy have expressed differing views on the proposal.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the bill, which already passed first reading at a plenary session of the Senate on Wednesday, March 11, proposes to ban the importation and use of generators in a bid to curb the menace of environmental pollution in the country.

First reading refers to the introduction of a bill in a Legislature prior to debate and a vote on same by the members.

The bill states that anybody who imports generating sets, or knowingly sells generating sets shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years.

It as well seeks to stop the use of electricity generating sets which run on diesel/petrol/kerosene of all capacities in the country.

However, the bill excludes generating sets used for essential services, including medical purposes, airports, railway stations/services, elevators, escalators, research institutions, and other facilities that require 24-hour electric power supply.

Whereas, approval for exclusion shall only be obtained from the Minister for Power, who shall brief the Federal Executive Council (FEC) of the government quarterly on approvals granted, states the bill.

Agency reports that Mr. Osayu Ogboghodo, Senior Consultant, Nextier Power, stressed that appropriate research must be conducted before implementing the ban on generators while power supply from the grid should show considerable improvement.

“They need to ensure that we have reliable electricity supply and quality of service to a level that is acceptable to the people who are using these generators as an alternative source of energy,” Mr. Ogboghodo said.

According to him, “basically, we have 13, 000MW installed capacity and only about 4, 000 gets to the consumers; so, there is a supply gap which is why the consumers are using power generating alternatives.

“So if you are planning to ban generators, what measures are you putting in place to close the supply gaps or improve quality of service?”

He submitted that solar components which are a renewable source of energy have become cheaper in Nigeria, but are still unaffordable to majority of Nigerians.

“There is no concrete plan in place to even encourage and promote solar energy. Renewable energy is a good thing, but we don’t have the capacity right now.

“To be honest, even the mini grids still use diesel generators as backup, which is a cheaper option than getting batteries which are expensive.

“So, these diesel generators that they are thinking of banning are used for renewables as backups,’’ the energy expert stated.

Similarly, Mr. Sural Fadairo, National President, Energy Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Initiative, said the ban was not the solution to Nigeria’s energy crisis.

Mr. Fadairo said that “it does not make sense for them to ban importation and usage of generators for now.

“Let us have at least between 10, 000MW and 15, 000MW first; then we can start thinking of banning it because of environmental issues.”

The claim that the power sector was being held hostage by generator cabals was laughable, he stated, stressing that what the sector needs are the right investments, policies and legislation.

According to him, such a ban will only make Nigerians to suffer.

Nevertheless, Mr. Adeola Samuel-Ilori, National Coordinator, All Electricity Consumers Protection Forum, differs as he backs the bill, describing it as a welcome development.

Mr. Samuel-Ilori said: “The totality of our advocacy toward the electricity or power sector betterment is nothing but to see that all the saboteurs of the sector are clinically dealt with.

“One of the reasons why the sector has not witnessed growth is because of generator importers who do all that are necessary to see efforts at improving the service are futile.

“This proposed ban will not only help to checkmate their activities at sabotaging government’s efforts but will help in reducing capital flight.”

He further stressed that the proposed ban would enable Nigeria to explore renewable energy which would create job opportunities for the people.

The consumer protection advocate, however, called for the modification of the bill, especially the part relating to punishing people for using their generators already acquired before its introduction in the Senate.

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