Despite the Nigerian government sinking at least N5 trillion in the power sector in the last couple of years, electricity supply in the country has not markedly improved, a THISDAY review has shown.
President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this year expressed his displeasure with the state of electricity in Nigeria and had in May 2018 queried the alleged expenditure of $16 billion on power projects during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Although Nigeria currently has the capacity to produce 13,000 megawatts of electricity, Africa’s most populous nation produces just between 3,000mw to 4,000mw for its over 200 million citizens.
Nigeria’s power generation sometimes drops to as low as 1,145mw as recorded last month, leaving most parts of the country without electricity supply.
The national grid performance, for instance, showed that only 10 of the 24 power generation companies were on the grid at a point in April.
As at last Sunday, while the peak generation was 3,795mw, the lowest generation for the day was 3,003mw, with highest recorded voltage being 356kv.
However, figures from the System Operator (SO), an arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), showed that for that day, transmission wheeling capacity remained at 8,100mw.
In addition, the data from the system operator indicated that while peak demand forecast was 19,798mw, grid installed capacity was 13,014mw, while generation capacity was 7,652mw. All time peak generation remained a paltry 5,801mw.
This year alone, the grid has collapsed several times, throwing the country into total darkness.
In 2019, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said the federal government had pumped about N1.5 trillion in intervention fund into Nigeria’s power sector in the previous two years (between 2017 and 2019).
In May of that year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the disbursement of N120.2bn to different electricity distribution companies (Discos), power generating companies (Gencos), service providers and gas companies, in order to address the liquidity and funding challenges facing the sector.
In June 16, 2020, the Senate disclosed that N4.4 trillion was injected generally into the power sector as intervention funds since 1999 (aside the alleged $16 billion), while N1.7 trillion was specifically injected into the sector since 2015, without a corresponding improvement in power supply.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan lamented that Nigeria lost about $29 billion yearly to poor power supply.
Recently, the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning, Zainab Ahmed, admitted that the latest N1.3 trillion intervention fund the federal government provided for the power sector had not yielded any significant result.
On March 1, 2017, the federal government approved the sum of N701 billion as power assurance guarantee fund for the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET) to pay for the electricity produced by the generation companies (Gencos).
“Recent intervention (between 2017-2019) towards addressing the power sector problem includes the N701 billion and N600 billion Payment Assurance Facilities (PAFs) …have not yielded significant result.
“Shortfalls caused by the large difference between allowed tariffs and what is required for cost recovery cost the FGN a total sum of N1.249 trillion between 2017 to 2019. These resources are more needed for human capital development and infrastructural investment,” she said.
President, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, Kola Olubiyo, while decrying the situation, noted that aside the pain faced by individual homes, the plight of businesses like hotels, banks could be better imagined.
“The national power grid peak energy generation capacity, that is installed capacity is 13, 000 megawatts, the average national grid sourced energy capacity is 7,500 megawatts, but in the past six months, we haven’t dispatched more than 3, 500 megawatts, which is grossly inadequate for a nation of over 200 million population..
“In short, it is most embarrassing to say the least. The situation is bad beyond imagination and it defies comprehension,” he lamented.
According to him, as it is today, because of the erratic nature of supply, end users of electricity in Nigeria are not able to plan their schedules because even the load shedding embarked upon is not structured.
“The real problem is not because Nigerian electricity sector has not grown in grid outputs capacity. For example, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) on the average gets 400 megawatts daily allocation of grid in the morning on daily basis and sometimes by evening of the same day, AEDC’s allocation could drop to as low as 200 megawatts or 100 megawatts.
“This paltry 200mw baseline to 400mw baseline of maximum allocation of daily grid allocation is what Abuja metropolitan areas alone and industrial clusters can consume in one fell swoop.
“It is most disheartening and sad to say the least. How do we expect FCT, Niger State, Nasarawa State and Kogi State all under the franchise AEDC to survive in the prevailing circumstances,” he queried.
He argued that despite the fact that load demand remains high, yet there has been deliberate load rejection and idle generation, which is wasted or get stranded on daily basis.
Also speaking, Coordinator of the Association of Electricity Customers Monitoring Network, a power consumption advocacy group, James Harry, noted that without adequate electricity, all the talk about developing the country was just mere sloganeering.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that in 2022 after trillions of dollars has been sunk into the power sector, we still can barely generate 3,500mw. The government must begin to ask the right questions of those it has given the responsibility to provide electricity for Nigerians,” he stated.