Group Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Tony Elumelu has called on the Federal Government to prioritise power supply to support businesses and achieve sustainable economic development.
Speaking yesterday on the ARISE News TV on economy, African development and entrepreneurship, Elumelu said Nigeria needs about 100,000 Megawatts of electricity per day to power the economy.
He said: “Every sector of our economy needs the power sector and I think we need to prioritise it more. But I commend efforts going on and also by making sure we privatise the remaining ones. The transmission lines need to be fixed and we need to make sure we improve the payment system.”
He however expressed dismay that the country operates with less than 5,000 megawatts.
“For the power sector to work, it must work well. If we have to drive this economy, we need to increase generation, make sure we fix gas supply to generating companies and ensure the transmission lines are utilised to evacuate the power. We also need to make sure that power generated are taken by Discos and the end users and pay,” said.
According to him, power is still a critical sector requiring more investment by stakeholders to make sure that it works for sustainable economic growth.
Elumelu, who is also Chairman, Heirs Holdings, said Transcorp through Transcorp Power and Afam Power today in Nigeria own the highest generating capacity in Nigeria that can generate 2,000 MW of electricity a day.
“Unfortunately, we do less that 500MW at this point in time and a major constraint in this area is gas then there is the issue of transmission and there is issue of payment. For this to work well for us to generate more, we need to have gas and our group has invested in oil and gas. And so, for us as a Group, it is not necessarily for oil, it is because of gas because we want to be able to ensure that we have gas from our oil and gas production to convert to electricity,” he said.
According to Elumelu, said: “What some of us have advocated is that the Gencos, the Discos and the entire power stakeholders should come together and have a deal with the federal government to take over the transmission lines and it would be in our self-interest to make sure it works. We have the transmission lines that do not work so, when you are generating, there is no way you would evacuate your power. That sector is so critical and pivotal for the survival of power sector.
Responding to questions on if UBA is exposed to insider trading, he said: “The oil and gas acquisition we just made, UBA did not participate in the funding. It is a club of international and local lenders. The local receiving bank for our proceeds is Union Bank of Nigeria and the international receiving bank of our oil sales is Standard Chartered Bank, London.
“The transaction was funded by consortium of banks – Standard Chartered, ABSA in South Africa, Afrexim, Union Bank, Fidelity Bank in Nigeria and a host of other international banks. So, we are minded of all this and we are very prudent in making sure we do not put pressure on the bank”.
“We also put in equity investment and when we need to get investment, we try not to put pressure on the institution. What is important is that it is within the limit UBA should be exposed to a company and it is by the way performing very well. Our loans are performing very well, ”he added.
Elumelu said there was need to improve Nigeria’s productive base and diversify its foreign exchange earning sources. He called for continued improvement on the ease of doing business and creating the right environment would enable people, businesses and entrepreneurs succeed.