Revamping Nigeria’s Economy: Time to redirect the working course of the power sector arms


Matters bordering on power in Nigeria,  have been a subject which over  decades have remained along the lines of popular dissatisfaction. When discussions on the productivity of the power sector are brought to bear, the narrative mostly has always tended stronger towards the walls of lamentation, particularly when comparison is made between the energy requirement of the Nigerian economy and the productivity of the power sector. At both the level of domestic and commercial demands, experiences of imbalance, unreliable, and epileptic power supply have been a subject of concern; thus making the profile of power supply in the Country a relative subject of mixed narratives. While some areas in Nigeria now boost of appreciable supply, there are those where the experiences have been one of lamentable narratives. Even within areas experiencing some stable power supply, there have been outstanding issues of controversies which themselves have remained subjects of contest in recent times. Unaddressed matters of contest over the years also bear their records of undesirable effects. The impacts of all these discrepancies have no doubt continued to bear resonating effects on the Country’s economy negatively.

Recent report from the Federal Ministry of Power revealed that the Country’s power sector has lost no less than N20.5billion revenue between January 1 and 22, 2021. The loss finds its way of expression just as operators in the sector have tarried on the complaints of rejection of energy by Distribution Companies (DisCos). According to records, it is saddening that between the period of three weeks in 2021, the sector has secured a loss to the tune of over N20.5billion. The  deficits in generation, transmission and distribution infrastructures which have continued to impede reasonable quantum of power supply, are sad tales for a Country like Nigeria. Issues revolving around insufficient gas supply among others,  are wobbling insubstantive matters that Nigeria in the depths of resources should have outgrown.   Findings have shown that the average energy supply within this year hovers around 4,505MWH/H, with a peak of 5,584MW from the national grid.

One issue of contest still lingering till the present is the architecture of power distribution by Distribution Companies (DisCos). The argument over the rejection of energy generated and transmitted to the operators has continued to be a huge source of loss in the sector. One of the grounds for such rejection by distribution operators, has been on the allegations of unwillingness of areas where such energy are meant for, to pay bills. On the part of consumers, displeasures have continually been registered over exorbitant charges incommensurate with  energy consumed. Such contention has continued to have expression from domestic to commercial consumers.

Lamenting the effects the rejection of energy generated for distribution by the DisCos pose on the sector, the General Manager, Market Operations, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Edmund Eje, at a recent virtual power dialogue, stated that the widening revenue gap in the market had further made the DisCos to drop electricity load. According to him, the load rejection had impacted negatively on the machines of power generation and transmission companies. He had lamented that despite the over 12,000MW installed generation and transmission capacities, there has been a high amount of unutilised energy due to load rejection by power distributors,

He was quoted, “As the market gap started widening, the DisCos resorted to reducing their invoice monthly. How could that be effected? It was by reducing the amount of energy they take. By reducing the amount of energy you take, you are restricting the amount of energy to be evacuated from the transmission side. And it has to be understood by everybody in the power sector that energy consumed, generated and evacuated are done simultaneously because energy is not stored anywhere. Although we have new technologies coming out now where you can use batteries to store energy, I can tell you that as the generator is generating, transmission is evacuating it. And as it is being evacuated, the consumer takes it. So any imbalance within these three causes a lot of issues, most especially when the DisCos drop load for whatever reason. And at such instances, the transmission company would battle to bring the grid to a steady state of transmission and as it does this, there is this signal to generation that there is imbalance and so they (generators) should drop load. This means that we have capacity that cannot be utilised because of the ripple effect from the distribution end. But most people tend to say there is evacuation problem, whereas we we have 12,954.4MW installed transmission capacity.”

Records on power grid collapse from the Nigerian Electricity System Operator have revealed that the national grid collapsed for no less than 27 times in the last three years.  In the period under review, the grid recorded 25 total collapses with total black-out, while two were partial. It is known that the national grid has continued to suffer system collapse over the years owing to lack of spinning reserve that is meant to forestall such occurrences. The Country’s five power stations —-  Egbin, Delta, Olorunsogo NIPP, Geregu NIPP and Omotosho NIPP, which are supposed to provide spinning reserves, have not been on the verge of appreciable performance  to guide against a total black-out on the instance of grid collapse.

In its recent report, the Nigerian Electricity System Operator had put Nigeria’s installed generation capacity at 12,954.40MW; available capacity at 7,652.60MW; transmission wheeling capacity at 7,300MW; and the peak generation ever attained at 5520.4MW. Issues revolving around frequency fluctuation and other harmonic distortion which have been observed to result in poor power quality that could damage sensitive industrial machinery and equipment connected at high voltage levels, are matters of concern to the commercial consumption of energy, which effects on the economy is undesirable.

The necessity for the Government to deploy concerted efforts towards the performance of the power sector is essential. The relative nexus between the productivity of the power sector and the profile of economic performance cannot be over-emphasized. As Nigeria continue to grapple with the scourge of economic downturn, it is imperative for the Government to deploy more systemic approach to drastically change the narrative of the productivity of the power sector. The lingering matters of contests pulling the sector under the precipice of under performance, are  subjects that require systemic approach to address. It is therefore, paramount for the Government to deploy appropriate strategies by coordinating the efforts of the corresponding agencies, the operators and all stakeholders within an overarching system of navigation in a manner that will give way to appreciable outcomes.

It is imperative that all issues revolving around billings, generation, transmission, and distribution, be addressed holistically. It is time for the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to become more proactive in its approach towards addressing deficienct factors such as grid collapse, frequency fluctuation and other harmonic distortion, spinning reserve challenges, among other dysfunctional short falls of the sector. It is paramount for the Government to initiate a strong system of patterns of balance with the required infrastructures which embraces a working nexus among the generation, transmission and distribution architectures to productively perform to the fullest of their capacities. The infrastructure deficits within the circle of the production lines among the three subsectors of the production chain, has been a huge blow requiring substantial approach to address. The continuous loss accruing from the sector and its debilitating effects on the economy at large, calls for a rethink from the Government to embrace new patterns of systemic approach to redirect the channels of the working course of the arms of the power sector.