New Telegraph

Reps To Probe Frequent Collapse Of National Grid

…Seek review of digitalisation policy

The House of Representatives on Wednesday mandated its Committee on Power to liaise with critical stakeholders in the power sector to urgently investigate and proffer solutions to the embarrassing frequent collapse of the national grid.

The decision was consequent upon a motion sponsored by Hon. Billy Osawaru (APC, Edo), which was approved at plenary presided by Speaker Tajudeen Abbas.

Presenting the motion, Billy Osawaru noted that sustainable energy is essential to any modern economy, and Nigeria is no exception, as a stable electricity supply ensures that industries remain viable, power homes, and facilitates significant economic growth and industrial progress;

He commended the plan of the Federal Government to increase power capacity to 20,000 megawatts (MW) from 12,522 MW projected within the next three years and the Electricity Act, 2023 is aimed at addressing the persistent challenges in the power sector, harnessing new opportunities, as well as propel Nigeria toward a future of reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity supply.

“Aware that the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in August 2023 stated that the Nigerian power grid recorded an unparallel period of stability in the history of the power sector by operating without major disruptions or systems collapse for over 400 consecutive days, a milestone that indicates an advancement in the nation’s efforts at strengthening its power infrastructure, ensuring a reliable and dependable electricity supply to distribution load centres for onward distribution to electricity customers nationwide

“Worried that in a space of one week in the month of August 2023, Nigeria recorded three national grid collapses, the national grid collapsed twice within 6hrs and on the 19 August 2023, another system collapse was recorded.

“Also worried that frequent grid collapses this year have negatively impacted the economy, reducing industrial output and raising manufacturing expenses, Firms are forced to invest in alternate power sources, thus, raising operational costs and leaving end users with exorbitant prices, which citizens cannot afford, especially with subsidy removal effects.

“Recalls that the nation is currently facing its worst form of insecurity, including insurgency, banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes, the collapse of the National grid will embolden criminal activities and security facilities such as the Vigiscope App, Police Situation room App, all Police Commands control rooms can be compromised during the dark hours, tracking devices that need power to reach telephone lines can be hampered.

“Cognizant that if the frequent national grid collapses are thoroughly investigated and solutions proffered, it will end the continuous system collapse, boost the economy and reduce the suffering of the citizens”

Also yesterday, the House mandated its Committee on Digital and Information Technology to liaise with the Ministry of Information and National Orientation, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC) to investigate the agreement between the Federal Government and Star Times to fast track the complete digitalisation of the Nigerian broadcasting industry.

The order was given after adopting a motion sponsored by Hon. Taofeek Abimbola Ajilesoro (APC, Osun).

In his lead debate, Ajilesoro noted that Nigeria embarked on the journey towards Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Broadcasting on June 17, 2006, following the deadline of June 15, 2015, set by the International Telecommunication Union (IT) for member countries to transition from analog to digital broadcasting.

He said the late President Musa Yar’Adua directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to affect the transition; however, at a stakeholders meeting held on June 3, 2008, the Nigerian broadcasting industry leaders agreed to reschedule the initial international deadline.

According to him, the plan of the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari, as championed by the former Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), was to complete the process by December 2022.

“However, the program was launched in eight (8) states, namely: Lagos, Kano, Plateau, Kwara, Osun, Kaduna, Enugu, Rivers, and the Federal Capital Territory, out of the 36 states of the Federation.

“Aware that the transition from analogue to digital is aimed at creating a more equitable, just, and people-cantered information society that will connect underserved populations and remote communities.

“Also, be aware that the Digital Switch Over (DSO) project, upon completion, will translate to increased digital television penetration, improved quality television services, adherence preference ratings, crystal clear sound, and visual sounds, in addition to other value-added services.

“Concerned that, despite other African nations such as Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya, etc. having finished the transitioning process, the digital switchover program in Nigeria’s broadcasting industry has stagnated or slowed down. In spite of being almost ten years into the process, Nigeria, with the biggest economy, still lacks a strong foundation for the shift.

“Also concerned that the platforms for Pay TV programs are dominated by foreigners, like DSTV, owned by Multichoice, a South African company, and Star Times, which is 70% owned by Chinese and 30% by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA);

“Acknowledges that there was an agreement reached with Star Times for the utilization of their facilities spread across the country to fast-track the implementation of the process.

“Worried that Nigeria has repeatedly missed the deadlines for switching to digital broadcasting due to a variety of issues, such as the enormous financial outlays needed to build the necessary infrastructure to guarantee that the digital television set won’t be interrupted by thunderstorms or heavy rain—a term used to euphemistically describe bad weather that distorts the quality of the shows”

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