Unpopular bills seem to be finding their way into the hallowed chambers of the Senate recently. First is the social media bill which aims to regulate communication on social media. After generating a lot of outcry against it, the Senate finally held a public hearing for it.
Now, another bill, recently introduced, has passed first reading at the Senate. This bill proposes a ban on the importation and use of generators and generating sets in the country.
A lot of people have reacted to the bill on social media platforms, sharing concerns at the poor timing of the bill while predicting a devastating effect on the economy.
A strong recurrent counter to the provision of the bill is that it seeks to ban generators when the Country’s power sector is struggling to meet up with the country’s demand. Of course, people are concerned.
According to the CEO of Arnergy in 2014, Femi Adeyemo, Nigerians generated 14,000 MW and added 3000MW to what was generated annually. The reliance on generators and generating sets increases as more institutions keep getting set up in the business, health and other sectors of the economy.
What does the bill say?
The bill is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Prohibit/Ban the Importation of Generating Sets to Curb the Menace of Environmental (air) Pollution and to Facilitate the Development of the Power Sector’. The bill passed its first reading on Wednesday.
The bill essentially criminalises the importation of generating sets. However, essential services and government agencies will be permitted to import and use generating sets.
In addition to the ban on importation, individuals are also directed not to use generating sets in all parts of the country.
As previously established, this has generated a fair amount of outcry from people who see the ban as a show of misplaced priority and lack of concern for the welfare of Nigerians.
While the concerns are founded, there’s a need to look at how this bill comes to play in the bigger picture is also necessary for a balanced opinion to be formed.
Generators, clean energy and climate change
Responding to the alarming rate of global warming and climate change, Jeff Bezos recently launched a $10 million fund to bolster the efforts of organizations working towards a more environmentally friendly world.
As part of its own efforts, Nigeria’s Minister for Works and Labor announced that by 2030, renewable energy will form 30% of the total annual energy consumption in the country. He also envisaged that 45% of carbon emissions will be eliminated.
So, from a global warming perspective, placing a ban on the importation of generating sets makes sense. This is because carbon emission generated by generators from houses and businesses in the country accounts for 63% of the total.
Perhaps, the issue most people have with the ban is that there is no provision of adequate alternatives to replace generators in the daily activities of Nigerians.
The obvious alternatives to generators are renewable energy sources, especially solar energy. Solar-powered inverters and electricity-powered inverters are fast becoming common in the country. However, a recent study shows that these are about 10 to 15 times more expensive than their gasoline counterparts.
With these in mind, perhaps making sure that alternatives such as solar inverters are available to people at affordable prices should be the priority. This is especially crucial considering the income level of most Nigerians who use the more popular ‘I-pass-my-Neighbor’ generators whose importation has since been prohibited.
What are some of the economic implications?
If the bill holds, one of the effects is that artisans who repair generators for a living will have to look elsewhere as the number of generators operating will drop significantly.
This also means less need to purchase fuel for the generating systems at filling stations. However, a wider impact will be felt by small businesses that rely on generating sets to carry out their operations in the country.
According to the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf , the bill is not a realistic one and does not show that its promoter is in touch with the reality of the power situation in the country.
Before suggesting the bill to Nigerians, these are some of the sides that have to be observed before people can be persuaded one way or the other. It is important to also note that in some advanced countries, generators are not banned but kept as back ups or for outdoor functions.
Therefore, policies that would improve the power sector of the country should be a more pressing matter at the moment. More so because if the grid functions as it should, there will probably be no need for bills before people stop using generators and importers stop importing them.
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