The question on the lips of many Nigerians for some time now is when will Nigeria enjoy uninterrupted power supply? This has been the ultimate goal of the power sector and it is interesting to find out how much closer we are to achieving this goal. In truth, it appears far-fetched to imagine constant power supply in every part of the country considering the current inconsistency that has plagued the power sector, however this is the apparent end game of all stakeholders involved in electricity in Nigeria.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola SAN, in his recent write up as a Guest Columnist in one of the national newspapers, revealed that Nigeria is engaging with countries like United Arab Emirate and China to bring significant investment into various areas in the electricity sector. He noted that Nigeria would engage with UAE to bring solar power to the country at an attractive price, while China has signed collaboration agreement with Nigeria in the area of power infrastructure development.
As part of the efforts to increase power generation, the Minister recently met the Head of the International Nuclear Agency in Abuja who visited to assess the progress of Nigeria’s nuclear power development. The plan ultimately is to start to produce nuclear energy- 1,200mw at first and then expanding up to 4,800mw. Plans are also in place to develop an energy mix that will harness the various potentials of renewable energy sources in the country. This includes solar projects in Northern States like Jigawa and Kano which have been identified as the most prolific solar area in the North. In the North- Central Zone, the energy mix in that area will be a combination of solar, hydro and coal. In South south and South west, it will largely be gas while in parts of South East, it will be a combination of gas and coal. All these are part of an effort to realise the dream of uninterrupted power supply.
This duty is shared by the Generating companies (GenCo) and the Distribution companies (DisCo). The power generating companies have however consistently complained of scarce and insufficient gas supply.
For example, this has impeded the powering of over 200mw of idle power from Egbin Power Plant, owned by AES and that is just one example of how certain variables have affected power generation in the GenCos.
With all these efforts being made by the stakeholders, it is safe to assume that measures are being put in place to achieve our power goals. However, if we take a critical look at all these factors that contribute to power supply, it becomes more complicated to predict when we can expect uninterrupted power supply. For example, the generating companies cannot clearly predict their operations because the gas supply is inconsistent. These inconsistencies are often due to vandalizations and these vandalizations are practically unpredictable.
At times, it feels like the situations that affect power supply in the country stem from other sectors in the country that are not directly related to the power sector. For example, how the insecurity crisis in the south-south is invariably affecting power supply around the country.
The DisCos are not left out also, various DisCos around the country have recorded losses and this is often due to electricity theft. This losses account for millions of naira in revenue which could be used by the DisCos to improve infrastructure and help contribute their quota to the dream of uninterrupted power.
Ironically, the DisCos are often the ones who suffer the wrath of the customers as they play arguably the most important (and sensitive) role in the value chain.
So, before we can accurately predict the realisation of our power goals, various checks and balance have to be put in place at the operational level, and we as a people need to work together to convert some of these “variables” that contribute to inconsistent power supply to more certain “constants”. Only then can we employ statistical models that can accurately predict when we can realistically achieve uninterrupted power supply.
It isn’t all gloom however; this year Nigeria has consistently generated slightly below 6,000 megawatts of power. The first time the nation has generated past 5000 megawatts since independence in 1960. If we continue on this upward trajectory we could achieve our power goals sooner rather than later.