Electricity Bill 2021 seeking reforms in power sector passes second reading in Senate

By Haruna Salami

Electricity Bill 2021 which seeks to repeal the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 and enact the Electricity Act, 2021 passed second reading in Senate on Tuesday.

It was tagged “A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005, consolidate the laws relating to the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry and enact the Electricity Act, 2021 to provide a comprehensive legal and institutional framework for the post privatization phase of the power sector in Nigeria and related matters, 2021”.

The Bill, according to the sponsor, Senator Gabriel Suswam  (Benue North East), who is the Chairman Senate Committee on Power, will provide the ideal legal, institutional framework that will guide the post-privatization phase of the power industry in Nigeria.

The bill which was read the first time on Thursday 8th of October, 2020 was exhaustively considered on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.

“This Bill seeks among other things to consolidate all legislations in Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and enact an omnibus Electricity Act for the industry.

The Bill also sought to provide the framework that would attract more investors to leverage on the modest gains of the privatized electricity industry in Nigeria to accelerate growth in power generation capacity and improve utilization of generated power through increased investment in new technologies that would enhance transmission and distribution of generated power and minimize aggregate value chain losses.

Sen. Suswam mentioned that in spite of the modest milestones recorded in the Nigerian power sector through reform exercise, the sector has not been able to meet the target of making electricity available to 75% rural and urban population by 2020 as envisaged in the National Electric Power Policy.

This, according to the sponsor, is because the sector is currently plagued by a number of challenges; some of which are operational constraints that emerged after the privatization exercise while others may be attributed to the gaps inherent in the extant statutory framework.

He also noted that industry information indicates that countries that have gone through power sector reforms have realized the need for comprehensive electricity laws that deal with post privatization issues that were not contemplated by the reform legislation.

He further noted that he passage of the Bill will pave way for the required policy and regulatory measures that will attract investments of more than $4bn across the power value chain between now and 2010, thereby enhancing the prospects of increasing Nigeria’s electric power per capita consumption, highest in the West African Sub-Region within the same period.

The Lawmaker also stated that in compliance with Order 77(3) of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015 as amended, the proposed Bill has no additional financial burden on the treasury of the Federal Government.

Senator Aishat Binani, (Adamawa Central) in her contribution described the Bill as the “Bill of the year”, because of its importance and urgedher colleagues to support it.

Chukwuka Utazi, the Senator representing Enugu North said “this country’s economy cannot move forward by being private sector driven, unless the power sector is fixed. He said manufacturers are moving to Ghana because of this power problem, adding that the only way for Nigeria is to “produce goods it needs and reduce consumption (importation)”.

The President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, after due considerations referred the Bill to Senate Committee on Power for further legislative works.