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[Published: Thursday June 26 2008]

Nigeria needs bn to fix power

Abuja , 27 June-(ANA)- Nigeria needs bn (42.7bn) of investment in its power infrastructure in order toproduce electricity 24 hours a day, experts say.

The sum is 17 times the amountthe government announced it would spend on the power sector, and four and ahalf times the country's oil savings.

Most of Nigeria's 140mresidents live without reliable power.

The sum was given by a panelof experts appointed by President Umaru Yar'Adua after nine months research.

Their final report has notbeen released to the public.

But the panel's chairmanRilwanu Lukman told journalists the power generation in the country had droppedto 1,800 megawatts (MW), from a capacity of 3,500MW.

He also said even if thecountry's power stations were working at full capacity, the transmission gridwas broken down and neglected.

"The grid is very weakmuch of the equipment is currently responsible for causing the power cutsacross the country," he said.

The country's short-term goalof 6,000MW by 2009 would cost bn (1.5bn), Mr Lukman said.

The government announced lastweek it would spend bn (2.5bn) from the nation's oil windfall on the powersector.

Mr Lukman said there were notenough engineers in the country to work in power stations or maintain theelectricity grid.

Nigeria wants to become one of the world's top 20economies by 2020.

But in May the president saidthe continual power cuts were preventing investment in the country.

The government is working onplans to attract private investors by subsidising their electricity bills, thefinance ministry said this month.

Before his election last yearMr Yar'Adua said he would declare a "state of emergency" on power.

Correspondents say revampingthe power sector remains one of his greatest challenges. (ANA)

FA/ANA/27 June 2008---

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