NIGERIANS may have inadequate power supply for a long time as Sam Amadi, the out-going Chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, said that 6,000 megawatts of regular supply of electricity is needed before power outages can be significantly reduced in the country.
Amadi, who was speaking during a public hearing on the activities of NERC and Distribution Companies, Discos, as they relate to infrastructure and billing by the House of Representatives Committee on Power, also said that 55 percent of consumers remain un-metered. He attributed this to legacy issues which have resulted in consumers being charged through estimated billing.
Amadi lamented that the cloning of meters and bypassing of meters remain a major challenge particularly in some parts of the country and this results in loss of revenue for Discos. Responding to reports that the regulatory body is soft on Discos for infractions and inefficiencies particularly in metering, Amadi agreed, but however noted that the agency is not quick to wield the big stick in order to build investors confidence in the sector. He also attributed it to the fact that the Discos are still experiencing several challenges.
“It is in the interest of consumers that we help Discos and generating companies to survive, but from the beginning of this year, we have been penalising. Recently, we asked Abuja Disco to pay N18 million to the family of a child who was electrocuted, and they did that,” he said.
Amadi added that Abuja Disco was also mandated to compensate 32,000 consumers with about N50 million due to over-billing. He explained further that the Discos are experiencing several challenges. “You talk about tariff, but what about gas? The telecommunications industry has the advantage of technological innovations. Electricity is a conservative technology, we cannot do without gas, even if we build solar everywhere,” he said, adding that the discos have to deal with weak infrastructure.
Also speaking at the public hearing, Mark Karst, managing director, Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, said the company is targeting 20,000 megawatts of electricity by the year 2020 and would need $1 billion annually to achieve the target. He noted that the money required is a huge sum.
Karst put the current power generation at 4,800 megawatts, with potential for 5,400 and 6,000 in a very short time if certain adjustments are made. He disclosed that the tariff application of TCN with NERC has been pending since the middle of 2014. “Transitional electricity market declared in February 2015 has not been effective,” he said, adding that the power sector remains a difficult field to navigate for all players involved.
Igariwey Enwo, member of the committee, however, challenged that NERC has being soft on Discos which resulted in them not being keen on metering, and campaigning for the switch to smart meters. “No individual in my state, Ebonyi, has a single pre-paid meter. Many people there have never even seen what it looks like…you have to make it mandatory for them to go ahead with the metering,” he said,
The lawmakers raised several challenges which consumers continue to experience, such as mass disconnection, paying for transformers, cables and even labour to get electricity and exploitation through estimated billing.
Daniel Asuquo, chairman, House Committee on Power, said the committee takes the issue of local content seriously, and Nigerians must be given right of first refusal. He also lamented that the TCN wholly owned by the government, is being owed by the discos despite the N213 billion loans granted to them by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Facebook Halts ‘Instagram Kids’ Project Following Criticism
Facebook, which faced sharp criticism from lawmakers and users for its plan to develop an Instagram for kids, announced Monday it’s pausing work on the project.
“While we believe building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, will re-evaluate the project at a later date. In the interim Instagram will continue to focus on teen safety and expanding parental supervision features for teens,” the company said in a statement.
The pause comes after an explosive Wall Street Journal report showed Facebook repeatedly found its Instagram app is harmful to many teenagers. The Journal cited Facebook studies over the past three years that examined how Instagram affects its young user base, with teenage girls being most notably harmed.
One internal Facebook presentation said that among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram.
The report led lawmakers to readdress their concerns over the social media app. Just after the news broke, representatives on both sides of the aisle demanded answers from Facebook. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., also called on Facebook to abandon its Instagram for kids efforts.
Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, will testify before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection on Thursday.
“Critics of ‘Instagram Kids’ will see this as an acknowledgment that the project is a bad idea. That’s not the case. The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today,” he said. Instagram will pause its work to address concerns with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators.
Instagram will also work on expanding its parental controls to teen accounts.
“These new features, which parents and teens can opt into, will give parents the tools to meaningfully shape their teen’s experience,” Mosseri said.
Mobile Operators Experienced 16,000 Outages in Seven Months, Says Minister
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami has disclosed that there were about 16,000 reported outages by mobile network operators in the country from January 2021 to July 2021.
The outages, according to him, were due to fibre cuts, access denial and theft, leading to service disruption in the affected areas.
The Minister who disclosed this in Maiduguri, during a recent town hall meeting, where he addressed the vandalism of power and telecommunications infrastructure, noted that the protection of the critical infrastructural facility was key to the nation’s security, economic vitality, public health and safety.
The event, which was organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture, was attended by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, his Deputy, Mr. Usman Kadafur, and other stakeholders. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, led some other ministers who were panellists at the town hall meeting.
Pantami, who was represented by the Commissioner for Technical Services, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Ubale Maska, decried the situation where telecoms installations that were destroyed in the attacks by terrorists had not been replaced as a result of the lingering insecurity and tensions in parts of the North-east.
As a way forward, the minister recommended continuous stakeholders buying-in and synergy among security forces.
He also urged the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill for onward submission to the President for assent.
Pantami, also said the Fifth Generation (5G) network, that was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council, would be deployed in Nigeria in January 2022. He said when deployed, it would aid the surveillance of public assets against vandalism.
He said while the technology would boost surveillance against criminal elements vandalising public infrastructure across the country, other measures should be put in place to arrest them and bring them to book.
The minister disclosed that there were over 50,000 telecommunication sites across the country, which made it difficult to manage manually except through the deployment of modern technology.
Nigerian Energy Startup Secures $2M Investment From Shell-Owned Fund
Nigerian startup Infibranches Technologies, which helps solar energy providers manage their operations and receive payments, has secured US$2 million funding from All On, an impact investment company backed by oil major Shell.
Founded in 2019, the Lagos-based Infibranches has developed two flagship products – OmniBranches and Green Energy Plug – that help companies with large distribution networks, particularly solar home system distributors and mini-grid developers, manage their operations.
OmniBranches is a management platform with features that include agent hierarchy management, commission tracking, transaction records, transaction analytics, and profile management, while Green Energy Plug is a single point of integration for payments and other financial services for service providers in the Nigerian renewable energy sector.
So far the company has served over one million customers and processed over US$120 million in transactions, and the US$2 million All On investment will be used to support the next stage of its growth by financing inventory, agent acquisition, and product and technology development, as well as providing working capital for Infibranches’ plans to distribute solar home systems for households and commercial users across Nigeria, with a special focus in the Niger Delta.
“Through this investment, Infibranches plans to speed up customer acquisition in its current markets. This will also improve existing products like Omnibranches, which has served over a million customers and introduce new products and services to address energy distribution issues,” said chief executive officer (CEO) Olusola Owoyemi.
Dr Wiebe Boer, chief executive of All On, commended Infibrances for its innovative business model that solves payments and collections problems solar system distributors and mini-grid developers face across Nigeria.
“This partnership merges fintech and renewables in a way we haven’t seen in Nigeria before and will enable tens of thousands of new electricity connections,” he said.
Shell to Sell $9.5bn Permian Asset to ConocoPhillips After Announcing Nigeria Onshore Exit
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