The Nigerian National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) will consider diversifying its power generation sources in a bid to solve the country’s serious energy crisis, said a spokesman yesterday.

NEPA may look to coal, solar and wind energy to supplement the thermal and hydropower generating capacity, said spokesman Malam Muhammed Mousa-Booth in the capital Abuja. He said that NEPA might also add to the hydroelectric generating capacity by building dams in Western Niger State and Eastern Taraba State.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country, has approximately 5900 MW of installed electric generating capacity. This is in the form of three hydro-based stations and five thermal facilities. However, the sector operates at significantly below its capacity and is subject to frequent power outages. Power production is currently 2000 MW but was as little as 1500 MW mid-way through last year.

The Nigerian government had mandated an increase in power production to 3400 MW by December this year, said the NEPA spokesman. It has set a long term goal of reaching 25 000 MW in generating capacity and extending connections beyond the 40 per cent of urban dwellers who have access to electricity and the 10 per cent who are linked to the grid in rural areas.

In March, President Obasanjo replaced the NEPA management with a nine-member technical committee to run the state-owned utility. The Nigerian government is hoping to increase foreign participation in the electric power sector and is looking for independent power producers to generate and sell electricity to NEPA.