With the presidential elections around the corner, various presidential aspirants have started declaring their interests and making promises on what they can do. Sadly, we know how this goes, the typical promise and fail circle. Sometimes I wonder, do these men know exactly what they’re talking about when they start to make promises? Or are they just playing to the hearts of the citizenry? Well, I may never know.
Do not get me wrong or misunderstand me, I’m not saying all politicians make promises and fail. Neither am I saying that all they promise are lies. What I’m saying is, they should not promise what they cannot deliver or something complicated. I mean, why promise 24 hours power supply if allowed a second term? (What happened to your first term?)
Again, do not misunderstand or misquote me. I’m not as pessimistic as I sound, I’m not saying that 24 hours power is not possible. However, saying that this is achievable in 4 years of office is not as easy as one may think. And these are the reasons I think so:
A number of regulations enacted by NERC do not favour the DisCos. For example, the tariff set by NERC (which is only 38% of the cost of power generation) means DisCos are already in the red.
Also, NERC has failed to review their regulations and policies as originally stated in these documents.
If any presidential aspirant is serious about improving the power sector, he must be ready to make sure NERC functions properly. He must be willing to raise the current tariff to what it’s meant to be and also make DisCos profitable. If DisCos are not profitable, the power sector’s current liquidity crisis will never go away. Is any of them ready to do that?
- The current grid must be improved on
Nigeria’s power grid is quite old and has collapsed a whopping TEN times this year. Nigeria’s power grid has a wheeling capacity of approximately 13GW but only 5GW (max) is transmitted. This gap is caused by a number of factors including grid instability. So, even if the GenCos decide to generate 13GW of power, the current grid cannot handle it.
To improve the current grid, money is needed, lots of it. Policies to facilitate loans must be made and implemented.
- How much electricity can the GenCos actually generate?
Although GenCos have never been tasked with generating more than 5000MW, can they generate more power when the need arises? With numerous reports of gas falls, it’s time other sources of energy are introduced and integrated into the current grid. These provide more options for power generation and prevents over reliability on a particular source.
Nigeria’s thermal generation accounts for about 82% of the power generated. More sources must be introduced to allow diversity. Alternative sources will also contribute to keeping the environment safe.
Any presidential aspirant making promises on power must be ready to invest and improve Nigeria’s current power generation. Projects to improve generation can take longer than 4 years. Will an aspirant be willing to sign off on a project that may see completion after his tenure?
- The Meter Gap
Putting effort into the points above without addressing the metering gap is like trying to fetch water with a basket. If all links in the power sector value chain get it right but collection remains an issue, the power sector will never leave its sorry state.
To address the collection issue, electricity consumers must be metered. Metering also promotes accuracy in knowing the amount of power distributed and used by electricity consumers, this can aid energy efficiency schemes on small to large scales.
An aspirant willing to make changes in the power sector must know the challenges that await him. Is he ready to take the bull by the horn, meet with all power sector stakeholders and find a way forward? Is he ready to address these outlined issues and more with a strict monitoring team to ensure the strategy is implemented? Whatever his promises and choice, he should know what he’s saying and be ready to fully commit to it.