Lagos State may become the first State in Nigeria to have electric power on a 24/7 basis. This was the promise by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode as he signed the Electricity Reform Bill into law last week. The Law will take care of impediments to investors and operators to committing to the power sector in the state.
First, companies generating power will be able to enjoy a guarantee of payment. Second, distribution companies will get support on the transmission infrastructure. Third, the gas market in the state will be opened up and finally, a raft of offences have been created to ensure that acts inimical to power generation can be easily prosecuted.
According to Mr Olawale Oluwo, Lagos State’s Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources:
“One, the law puts the government in a position to be able to extend our guarantee to private sector participants who will come and generate power for us and by this guarantee, we are putting the balance sheet of our State on the table and assuring investors that as they generate power, they will get paid. Second, is to help the distribution companies to upgrade their infrastructure because if they generate the power and their infrastructure is still where it is today, clearly they will not have the capacity to carry the incremental power. The third area of intervention is that it empowers us to be able to open up the gas market in Lagos so that we can have gas on a consistent basis and that is how we can attain the 24-hour power supply.”
The Commissioner explained that Distribution companies will also be assisted in the state to collect tariffs in a cost-efficient way with criminal sanctions for those who engage in ‘power theft’.
“What has happened today is that the first power theft law in Nigeria has been signed today by Governor Ambode and this is the first time any government in Nigeria will institutionalise the power theft law. “It criminalizes power infraction. What we have seen before is that people tamper with and bypass meters and at the end of the day they are arrested and nothing happens but the new law provides for jail terms as well as fines and all sorts of forbearance such that if you tamper with electrical installations, if you import fake electrical materials into this State, you are liable to be prosecuted,”