Short-Term Strategy on Achieving Electricity Stability in Nigeria


It is no news that Nigeria is bedeviled with unstable electricity, the deafening sound of individually owned petrol and diesel generators in most residential, commercial & industrial premises in urban areas of the country has become the norm.

Citizens spend their savings to buy expensive petrol and diesel fuel to power their individually owned generators, pollution is the order of the day as fumes are released into the air for the citizens to inhale at their own peril.

The rural dwellers have accepted their faith of no hope to public grid electricity supply, they survive by lighting their nights with kerosene lanterns, candles, and wood.

Everyone seems to be frustrated with the lack of power and failed promises by Government of the day that the future is brighter than imagined – still the citizens live in darkness.

From Lagos to Abuja, Abeokuta to Kwara, Anambra to Warri, Port Harcourt to Kaduna, Maiduguri to Otuoke, everyone is screaming “we want electricity”. Several protests emerge every now and then by the citizens who raise placards to demand stable electricity in the country – yet, no improvement so far.

The power distribution companies are yet to oblige to the terms of privatization by metering their customers, they are constantly accused of shadily billing consumers for electricity not consumed through estimated billing method.

All is not well with Nigeria’s power supply as the nation hungers for stable electricity. Nigeria has an installed 12,522 MW electricity capacity for supply, with 4,500 MW available to meet the needs of Nigeria’s population of over 170 Million. Planning expert estimates that for the Nigerian economy to grow at a rate of 10%, the country’s electricity supply must reach 30,000 MW by 2020 and 78,000 MW by 2030.

According to Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) statistics, the average power sent out on Wednesday, 8 February 2017 was an abysmal 3134MWh/hour.

It seems finally the issue has gotten to the crème de la crème of the country, all hell broke loose when the Senate President of the country (Senator Bukola Saraki) voiced out at the opening session of the senate on Tuesday, 7 February 2017.

He said “There had been errors in the privatization process and the model by which the power sector is being operated – whether at generation or distribution – will never take us where we need be. It has failed and nobody appears willing to tackle the issue head-on towards a permanent solution”.

He further said, “I have mandated the senate committee on power to continue the consultation with the relevant parties to forge a path to solving our crippling power deficit. After all, if we are going to drive Nigerian industry, we need to resolve this and fast”.

However clichéd his assertions may sound, what the senate president has said was absolutely spot on – Nigeria is going nowhere with the country’s current power system.

To resolve this and fast, Nigeria needs to look more seriously towards implementing short-term energy security solutions – quick wins.

Immediate divestment from long and obsolete transmission – all planned investment for improving the long transmission lines by the Government should be halted.

Nigeria has installed 12,522 MW capacity of electricity across 27 power plants and only about 7,139MW is available as at Q4 2016. Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said it’s capable of wheeling out 7,000 MW but statistics showed that the distribution network operational capability was 5,500 MW…. This is one major reason for Nigeria’s epileptic power supply.

What that implies is that even if Nigeria generates 30,000 MW by the next day, the power generated cannot be supplied to end users via the transmission lines because the Transmission Company does not have the capability to do so.

Nigeria should see the advantage in the disadvantage that long line distribution lines are no longer fashionable due to many factors such as technical losses, the huge capital investment that is required for the infrastructure and so forth.

Although there was an interesting development in the nation’s power sector sometime in August 2016 when it was news that the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) had signed Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s) with private investors to develop utility-scale solar power for the public grid.

I personally feel this development is riddled with uncertainty, I strongly do not think NBET has the liquidity to honor payment terms for these PPA’s should the distribution company default payment to NBET.

However that may be untrue, the issue of transmission and technical losses is largely unaddressed and will surely manifest, and how that will play out still remains uncertain.

For quick wins – the government should formulate enabling policies that will encourage private investment in microgrids (interconnected sources of power feeding a specific load demand), Remote area power supply (RAPS) or better known as standalone power supply and captive power for residential, rural areas and industrial clusters through different sources of renewable energy …. These are the shortest strategy to attaining energy stability for the country.

furthermore, there are several wasting power assets that are low hanging fruits for immediate power supply especially hydropower components of Dams established by the Federal and State Government of Nigeria.

It is estimated that Nigeria’s hydropower potential is 12,000 MW in the 7 river basins namely (Sokoto, River Niger, Hadija’ Jamre, Chad, Lower Benue, upper Benue and Cross River) within Nigeria.

Small hydropower sites totaling 37MW has been installed in Nigeria, latest of which is the 400kw Tunga dam small hydropower plant in Taraba state which is to produce electricity to more than 10,000 people and also supply electricity to kakara highland tea which services about 56,000 people, the plant was commissioned in August 2015 and developed by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), United Nations commission for refugee (UNHCR) and Taraba state.

Small hydropower is a critical success factor in energizing the rural areas by providing economic empowerment through setting up MSME’s and SME’s, it has been an efficient driver for fast tracking emerging economies all over the world.

Several hydropower components of dam projects are wasting – if not resuscitated or refurbished could lead to total waste of resources. Some of the abandoned assets are; Ikere George dam managed by Ogun-Osun river basin, located 28km northeast of Iseyin in Oyo state, the dam has a hydropower component of 6MW of electricity designed from onset with 2 x units of 3MW turbines, the powerhouse and penstock is 95 % complete, the turbines are still in crate to date, all works abandoned since 1982.

Oyan dam located in Oyan river, a tributary of Ogun river 25 km northwest of Abeokuta has 9MW hydropower component designed with 3 x 3MW hydro turbines, only one of the turbines has been installed and partially tested since 1986, the remaining two turbines are yet to be installed.

The Bakolori dam which is 75km away from Gusau, Zamfara State has a hydropower component 9 MW installed, 3 MW hydro and 6 MW diesel, all abandoned with most of the components stolen.

The wasting assets are a result of Government un-seriousness, lack of planning, lack of policy continuity, lack of focus on understanding the underlying problems and lack of government will.

A country like Nigeria in dire need of electricity could benefit quickly from these strategy because of its multiplier effect. Not doing so by government is a failure on the part of the government and abdication of its responsibility to the citizenry.



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