Another week, another national grid collapse, such has been the story of the Nigerian power sector. With over 30 National grid failures in the last 12 months, suggestions are starting to be made that the power sector might be moving one step forward but several steps backward.
Taking a more observant look at the situation, it is clear that all stakeholders would rather play the blame game rather than work together to rectify this recurring menace.
Back in January, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) claimed that Distribution Companies, DISCOs’ 30 percent remittances on monthly invoices is responsible for the current poor state of the country’s electricity services. According to the General Manager in charge of Transmission at TCN, Bede Opara, DISCOs have not been able to pay their debts due to energy theft and other issues.
“The low revenue collection affects transmissions as well as gas plants. All these are parts of the issues affecting the sector at one point or the other.”
TCN continues to operate with a cloak of mystery and with similar interference from Government that brought about NEPA and its obvious failings. With that in mind, I guess there isn’t really any surprises that reasons for the National grid failures continue to elude the public. TCN would rather discuss matters regarding the DisCos rather than address its own flawed transmission network.
In recent times the GENCO have also come to the fore, threatening to shut down their turbines as a result of huge market debts. Some have even gone to court to get relief. Their argument hinges on the opinion that DisCos poor collection and the incompetence of TCN facilities to transmit the required power is crippling the entire value chain.
The DisCos are not left out of the blame game and often tender a rather compelling argument of Electricity theft as the major reason behind its obvious incapacities. After all, various DisCos have announced losses in the sum of billions to electricity theft. As compelling an argument as that sounds, there is a school of thought that would suggest that electricity theft can be better combated and who else will do it if the DisCos don’t take charge and stop whining like little-deprived children.
It is also noteworthy that electricity theft is not the reason a large percentage of electricity consumers are on estimated billing and it certainly isn’t the reason why DisCos around the country can’t categorically state how many consumers they have. Only Kaduna Electric have taken the pains to launch an electricity census program in recent times.
The final leg of the value chain in the power sector which are the consumers are not excluded from the blame game. In fact, we are the most vocal. Quick to condemn industry players with every news of grid failure or power outage. Yet slow to repent from vandalisation, electricity theft and other vices that contribute to the problems of the power sector. It is true that not all electricity consumers indulge in such, and I commend those that don’t but the ones that do had better start realizing that the blame game only helps to excuse responsibility and does not solve anything in the long run.
As long as the GENCOS, TCN, DISCOS and Consumers continue to trade blame, we will only continue in the “rich” heritage of making excuses rather than progress.