As the 2018 Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit scheduled to hold in Beijing, China in October, and the Federal government expected to attend, a prominent Nigerian industrialists and chairman, Blue Diamond Logistics, Mr. Festus Mbisiogu, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to use the opportunity the summit will provide to engage Chinese investors to help tackle the challenges in the power sector.
FOCAC is a summit where Chinese and African leaders meet to discuss the policy of China-Africa, friendly relationships as well as explore new ways of deepening cooperation among African countries.
Mbisiogu said the complaints by electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) operating at huge losses and the revelation by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) that most of the DisCos were technically insolvent, is a warning that something drastic and proactive needed to be taken to stave off the collapse of the sector.
“It is obvious that these firms are operating below optimal level. They are overwhelmed by the challenges in the sector and they have no solution to these problems.
“That has fallen short both in price structure and liquidity and that is why we are still yet to obtain a reasonable level in power distribution. Typical of everything Nigeria, the Federal Government has allowed the DisCos to take advantage of everyone and many Nigerians are paying for the services they do not enjoy,” he said.
“Besides epileptic and poor services, outrageous billings and lack of commitment to the provision of meters for electricity consumers to ensure fair billing have been the hallmark of these DisCos.
“How long are we going to continue to spoon-feed these firms from our national treasury without any corresponding positive effects,” the industrialist added.
He urged the Federal Government to review the contract with the local investors as well as declare a state of emergency in the power sector.
He said: “At no other time is it more appropriate than now for President Buhari to declare a state of emergency in power. A recent statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics says 7.6 million Nigerians lost their jobs between January and June this year. This is traceable to industries closing down every day because of unsteady power supply. How long would this continue? If this trend is not halted now, Nigeria should forget whatever claims we are making for industrialisation.”
Mbisiogu recalled that there has been an attempt by Nigeria to involve Chinese investors in the sector in the past especially during President Buhari’s last visit to China, insisting that more should be done now.
“Today, China’s bilateral cooperation with Africa has grown phenomenally in the past 40 years with trade leaping from $765 million to $170 billion a year. China is Africa’s largest trading partner. With the totality of Africa’s debt to China being economically sustainable and with the Chinese government saying it is willing to expand its economic relations with African states, this is the time that Nigeria should exploit the opportunity and turn around our energy sector.”