Power has been an endemic issue in Nigeria even after the sector was unbundled and privatized paving way for private participation.
For more than one decade that the sector was privatized in order to make it efficient and grow development in the country, the situation has remained underdeveloped.
However, operators and stakeholders say the country needs about 180,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity over the next ten years to drive and sustain economic growth.
They spoke against the backdrop of the attainment of 4,438Mw of electricity last week, which they said was inadequate to power a typical industrial plant in China.
The stakeholders, comprising the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria’s (MAN’s) immediate past President, Dr Francis Jacobs and the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) Executive Director, Research and Planning, Mr Sunday Oduntan, spoke separately about the issue raising serious concerns about the sector.
On his own view, Jacobs said the 4,438 MW generated recently was too low to guarantee stable supply of power to Nigerian households, not to talk of meeting the needs of industries. He said workers’ capacity utilisation has been very low, due to the power sector crises and its attendant outages.
Jacobs said thus: “The issue of poor electricity supply in Nigeria is critical. An economy, with over 180 million people and huge manufacturing and other business activities only produces around 4000Mw of electricity. By the rule of the thumb, the country should be generating at least 180,000MW. According to World Bank report of 2013, Nigeria’s electricity per capita was abysmally at 142 kilowatts, which when compared with the world figure of 3,104 kilowatts for the same year, is pretty too small. To the manufacturing sector, the challenge of electricity supply is hydra-headed and the most singular core challenge inhibiting the projected growth of the sector. This challenge finds maximum expression in inadequate supply of electricity and exorbitant and punitive tariff.’’
Giving his perspective on the issue, Oduntan said, the bane of the power sector is poor generation, which is primarily caused by inability of the power firms to access enough gas for operation.
He said the firms needed to access enough gas for generation, if the industry will achieve energy sufficiency. He added that both generation and distribution are problems that appeared to have defied solutions in the sector.
He said a country such as South Africa generates electricity that can take care of the needs of its population.
According to the ANED boss, ‘’South Africa with 67 million people generates 48,000Mw and they are now working to increase the generation to 79,000 Mw. In Nigeria, 5,150 Mw was the peak we generated since 1980. Let us be sincere with ourselves, to generate power is expensive. To do 1,000Mw, you will need about $1.2billion.”
The Federal Government had advanced N750billion loan to the sector in 2015. The fund was earmarked by the government for the payment of gas owed by the operators, basically the power generation companies.
Besides, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) which the government handles in the power chain, had after December simulation, added several transformers to transmission.
However, more work is needed on the distribution capacities for the sector to fully stabilise. The TCN has continued to upgrade critical transmission infrastructure nationwide with the commissioning of over 40 power transformers and lines in the last two years, building of seven brand new sub-stations, diligently pursuing its Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme, which is encapsulated in its 20-year transmission expansion plan. Going by TCN intervention, it is hoped that in the coming days power might be improved in the country, but how sustainable it will be is left in the hands of government and power operators in the country.