29 March 2016, Lagos — Generation and distribution companies in the country have asked for more time and patience from Nigerians to improve electricity supply.
Their plea came as they identified weak transmission network as a major hindrance in the attainment of the 10,000 megawatts target set by President Muhammadu Buhari to be achieved in 2019.
The Executive Director, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, believes the President’s target is achievable, even though it was targeted at the twilight of this administration. According to him, “It has nothing to do with the tenure ending in 2019.
It is the timeline which it can be achieved. It shows that the government will be constructing new transmission and distribution networks. It is about improvement in the value chain. “I am not pessimistic about it.
We must remember that it was in public hands, now, it is in private hands. The scenario is different, and the environment is also different.
There is a determination by the new owners to improve so as have a return on investments unlike in the past when vested interests subverted government’s plans to improve the situation.” The Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, Mr. Robert Dickerman, believes that for the government to achieve its target, “there must be new capital to pay for new generation.”
However, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Forte Oil Plc, owners of Geregu Power plant, Mr. Akin Akinfemiwa, said that weak transmission network has been affecting the generating capacity of the plant.
“It does affect us because everybody has to go through the control centre where the power that is generated is been shared. Without a doubt, there is urgent need to upgrade the transmission infrastructure in Nigeria, to be able to cope with the level of the generation that is being anticipated or even being generated at the moment.
However, the good thing about us is that we have a dedicated transmission line to Abuja. That is where the advantage of investing in Geregu Plant lies,” he disclosed.
Dilapidated transmission infrastructure has remained the weakest link in the electricity value chain as the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, has increasingly demonstrated a lack of capacity to evacuate additional supply arising from improved gas supply to the generation companies.
Vanguard gathered that TCN has transmission capabilities of about 6GW. Nigeria’s transmission infrastructure is said to be made up of approximately 6,680 km of 330 kV lines, 7,780km of 132kV lines, 330/132kV substations with installed transformation capacity of 10,166 MVA and 132/32/11kV substations with installed transformation capacity of 11,660MVA.
TCN is still plagued with high non-technical losses and low infrastructure coverage of the country, as less than 40 percent of the country is covered by the existing transmission infrastructure.
According to an energy consultant and CEO of New Hampshire Capital Limited, Mr. Odion Omonfoman, the transmission segment of the electricity value chain is lagging behind. “Very little investments have come in since the power sector reforms and the challenges faced by TCN continue to hinder the realisation of reliable and stable power supply envisaged by the reforms.
“For the power sector to make progress, investments in transmission infrastructure must outpace investments in other segments of the value chain. Private sector ownership With an annual investment requirement of US$1billion for the next ten years, there is an urgent need to seek creative, private sector ownership and funding of transmission projects and infrastructure using the PPP model,” he said.
Efforts made to get the reaction of Clement Ezeolisa, spokesman for TCN was not fruitful, as he neither picked his calls nor did he respond to a text message sent to him.
DISCos are optimistic: The General Manager, Public Affairs, Eko Electricity Distribution Company, Mr. Godwin Idemudia, said the distribution companies, DISCOs, should be given more time to improve the infrastructure they met at the time they took over from the defunct PHCN were dilapidated.
*Sebastine Obasi – Vanguards