Monday, November 05, 2012

Battle time in transformation land

Nigeria has come a long way from April when I was frustrated about Delays in Power, the Petroleum industry bill, even the systems of business grants and buses that were promised as a palliative measure after the partial roll-back of subsidies on fuel importation.  We've seen the buses, we're glad about YouWIN, but there are still some problem spots:

Power - As at September, and even until now, the use of available power infrastructure was improved such that many homes + businesses started getting the highest level of "nepa-on" that they've seen in years.  This is a  fantastic development that gives us hope that we can complete the journey in electric power provision.  Note that the improvement so far - from over 2,000 to around 4,000 MW on a max capacity of 5 or 6 thousand - is little compared to what we are really hunting for (in the tens of thousands).
Power Privatization progress is that
1. the generation companies finally got new owners / operators (except for Afam, connected to the resignation of the former Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji)
2. The preferred bidders for the distribution companies have been announced (some bidders complained about the process, but it seems they don't really have a case)
3. the transmission company got new management three months ago, but on paper only.  Business Day reports reveal vested anti-privatization interests in the upper ranks of the privatization process, if that makes any sense.
This is probably why the Minister of State for Power (not to be confused with Minister of Power, still a vacant seat) was moved to the Niger Delta portfolio, and a woman, Zainab Kuchi, erstwhile Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, brought to replace him.
Current Battlepoint: Install Manitoba as an independent manager of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, that is free to apply its considerable technical base in the growth and management of Nigeria's electric power industry.
If this fails, it may be "cheaper" for the country to allow/license private concerns to develop new transmission infrastructure (natural monopoly or not; there are situations in which such redundancy is normal) and perhaps to weaken the need for the transmission company by allowing local/regional power projects. 

Security - Our people are still being killed in the name of Boko Haram.  A recent study highlighted that the strong-arm response of the military is making the problem worse.  Well, we learn everyday.  I know that Nigeria will use this feedback to work on ensuring our security. 
Current Battlepoints: Ok this one is not a battle, it may need a long-term strategy.

Petroleum - After the subsidy protests, there were four panels set up, including one charged with speeding up the passage of the PIB.  Poor bill, it is being debated still.
Now it turns out that the other three panels had their reports hidden/junked for months, then one was leaked, and now finally the reports will be seen by the President.  It will be fantastic if the reforms they suggest can be taken seriously.
I know that there are political reasons why some may not want these common-sense reforms. For example, in the absence of an alternative system for funding political parties and campaigns, a transparent petroleum revenues account means you're killing the funding for one party.  Many are focused on the idea that the reforms would dilute the power of the individual who holds the Minister of Power portfolio.  But clearly you can't be Minister of Power forever, so there must be a higher reason, right?    
At any rate, I would advocate that we favour light over darkness.  Let's not cover up the cover-ups.  Let us instead work through the issues and find ways to truly make Nigeria progress and prosper.
Current Battlepoints: Finalize the petroleum industry laws so that the players know what's up. 

Power, again: What the hell is happening in Lekki?  On the one hand, they probably demand a lot of power per person.  On the other hand, why are they not getting improved power supply in Lekki of all places?  My guess is that high corruption is taking place to ensure that Lekki residents continue to spend on generators and fuel.  Somebody needs to be fired, but who?
What we want

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