Stakeholders in the power sector have given their support to complete privatisation of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) by the federal government.
This is a follow up to the loss of over N1 billion usually declared monthly as losses by members of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) due to TCN’s weak capacity to optimally wheel all generated power by the Generation Companies (GenCos).
The argument for privatization had always been to open up the sector for huge local investment, as well as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), but the argument for privatization programme in Nigeria from past experiences had always been genuinely and transparent on the part of government, without having any vested interest and political undertones, aside serving the interest of millions of end consumers and businesses who had been in perpetual darkness for decades.
Despite the 5-year incremental, steady and uninterrupted power roadmap unveiled by the current administration, the national grid capacity remains weak costing the DisCos over N9 billion revenue between January and September this year alone.
In August, ANED had reportedly criticised TCN for only being able to attain a maximum wheeling capacity of 5,074.7mw till date in February, as against the claims to increase capacity from 5,500mw to 6,000mw in 2016.
The General Manager of Eko Electricity Distribution Company expressing his thoughts on the transmission shortcomings in a chat with NewsDirect said, “I don’t know why they (TCN) are not talking. Electricity generation, transmission and distribution is a value chain, if one of them is not performing, it will rub off on the rest two. If the government says they want to privatise and they think that’s the best option, then so be it! For us, we would have preferred a situation, whereby the whole electricity value chain is up and doing.”
The Technical Specialist, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), Akin Akinpelu similarly said inadequate funding by the government remains a very large part to TCN performance and the DisCos operations.
His words, “TCN needs more than N100 billion to improve the capacity of the national grid, but it only got a budget of less than N10 billion in this year’s budget, so what can that achieve? That’s the reason people have been suggesting that it should be privatised for proper funding and improved capacity.” Akinpelu noted that TCN was the weakest link in the electricity value chain, yet the DisCos often bore most of the complaint as a result of their direct contact with end-consumers.
In 2012, a Canadian power firm, Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) however took over the management control of TCN, though still within the purview of the FGN after signing a three-year management contract, which was later extended by one year after its supposed expiration in July 2015.
At the expiration of their management contract at the TCN, and with no indication of government granting an extension, MHI handed over the management of the firm to their Nigerian counterparts.
The underlying issue is; the poor funding and low grid capacity that characterised the company during MHI’s period as management contractor is still hunting the company’s transmission capability, even under the current Nigeria’s management board.
It’s needless to say, the performance of TCN is pivotal to the entire value chain, in view of its role of wheeling power from generation companies and delivering it to the DisCos for sale. The entire power sector and privatisation process could only rely on a professionally operated TCN.
Amid the non-performance on the TCN, the GenCos and DisCos operators have been pushing strongly for the government to concession the corporation for effective delivery.
The spokesman for Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) Alex Okoh, told Nigerian NewsDirect that “definitely government is in the process of considering taking key decisions on the much-talked about privatization” of some important national assets which has not only set many tongues wagging, but has also continued to divide experts’ opinions, especially with the vagaries of the However.
Okoh disclosed “no final decision has been made yet.”