The office of the President of Nigeria is to spend NGN 46 Mn to fuel generators this year. Obviously, the power shortage is a big issue in the country, but that does not seem to bother the legislation who now want to ban generator importation and use.
Bearing a similar degree of clamor as did the controversial social media bill which has now been shot down, the move to outlaw these power generating machines in Nigeria spells ten years imprisonment for any person who knowingly sells generator sets.
Nevertheless, the bill, which has now passed first reading, says it will facilitate the development of the country’s power sector. Also, the ban, if executed, will not affect hospitals, airports, railway stations/services, elevators (lifts), escalators, research institutions, and other facilities that require 24 hours of electricity
A section of the bill reads: “Any person who (a) Imports generating sets; or (b) Knowingly sells generating sets shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than ten years provided that this subsection shall not apply to the importation or sale of any generating set to be used for essential services.”
It is unclear what the plans are or whether this bill is actually being welcomed with open arms, but the situation currency threatens the comfort and livelihood of many Nigerians—especially those living in the electrically underserved areas.
As one of the worst challenges for the country’s economy, Nigeria generates only 3000 MW of electricity when it has a population of over 200 million. This is in spite of the numerous resources committed to develop the power sector.
One of the causes the just-passed bill pleads is the reduction of noise and air pollution. Though the concerns are not misplaced, this could be a step in the wrong direction. The use of generators has been the fall-back for millions of people across the country, including businesses.
Data from the World Bank says the adaptive failure of power in Nigeria costs the country’s economy USD 390 Mn. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds as countries with even more developed electric sectors have not thought about banning generators.
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