Lafarge to Sell Excess Electricity to Help Boost Nigeria OutputYinka Ibukun
Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc, the country’s second-biggest cement maker, plans to sell about 40 megawatts of excess electricity to help ease power shortages in Nigeria.
The company, 60 percent owned by Paris-based Lafarge SA, uses only 40 to 50 megawatts out of 90 megawatts generated by its local power plant, Michael Awanayah, the company’s general manager of business transformation, said yesterday at the West African Power Industry Convention in Lagos, the commercial capital. “We are looking to be one of the first manufacturers to sell power and help reduce the power shortage,” he said.
Electricity demand is almost double the supply of about 4,000 megawatts in Africa’s most populous country, forcing manufacturers to build their own plants to meet their electricity needs.
As much as 300 megawatts of that power lies fallow, according to Reginald Odiah, chairman of the infrastructure committee of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria. Lagos-based Dangote Group, Nigeria’s biggest cement producer, and chocolate-maker Cadbury Nigeria Plc are also considering selling excess power, he said at the WAPIC conference.
Nigeria, a country of more than 160 million people, handed control of 14 former state-owned power utilities to new investors in September in a bid to boost its output fivefold to 20,000 megawatts by 2016. Lafarge will be selling power to state-owned Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, which serves as a clearing house between power producers and distributors, Awanayah said.
“We have a gap of almost 600 megawatts in generation at our company,” Moses Jebutu, the assistant general manager of technical services at the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, said at the conference. “Manufacturers and distribution companies need to talk. We didn’t even know they had bottled power.”
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has taken on the role of mediator between the power suppliers and the industrial companies. “We are working with manufacturers to produce a database of all those willing to add capacity to the grid,” said Abba Ibrahim, the regulator’s commissioner of government and consumer affairs.
“Manufacturers can contribute significantly. It’s something we look forward to encouraging and promoting very quickly,” he said.