By Abah Adah,
The coming on board of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government two years ago on the 29th May, 2015 was received by Nigerians in an aura of joy and hope as a dawn of a new era of socioeconomic recovery and prosperity. The power sector as a major component of the economy has witnessed a chain of activities under this administration as it strives to turn it around for the benefit of all Nigerians. Here are the highlights:
This administration inherited both the good and the bad from the past administration including the Power Sector Reform Roadmap which was launched in 2010 and experienced the first review in 2013. Before 29 May, 2015, the peak of power generation ever attained was in the region of 4, 000 MWs, a far cry from what Nigeria a large population of about 170 million people should be boasting off. And like a careful student just given an examination question paper trying to calm down and understand the instructions well, much of action was not seen happening in the sector in the first few months after the handover on 20th May, 2015 as the incoming government was taking its time to study well before doing anything so as not to miss its target at the end. That was when the hunt for ministers, which lingered for some time with increasing expectations from the people, was on.
The Minister Resumes Work
Alas, the ball was set rolling with the oath-taking and assumption of office by Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, as the Hon. Minister of Power, Works and Housing on the 11th November, 2015. Fashola also took time to study the sector, and swung into action. He suspended the then about-to-be-announced hike in electricity tariff to the relief of consumers who felt the move was anti-people, unknown to them that as the minister settled down, there will be a U-turn in due course.
Existing NERC Board’s Tenure Ends
The tenure of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)’s board which had Sam Amadi as chairman came to an end in December, 2015, and interim management with Akah as Acting Chairman was floated to stir the affairs of the regulatory body without a board.
Fashola Commissions Egbe Power Plant Turbine
Also in December, 2015 the 6th and only remaining turbine of the Egbe power plant that was till then not functioning was switched on by the minister to enable it (the plant) generate at its full capacity of 3, 320 megawatts (MWs).
CBN’s Initial Intervention
The beginning 2016 brought hope the way of the general public with the assurances of stable electricity given by power investors as five firms received N18bn from CBN facility. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) commenced the disbursement of a total of N18.26 billion to five electricity distribution and generating companies as part of its N213 billion Nigerian Electricity Stabilsation Facility to the power sector. The first beneficiaries of the special CBN power sector intervention facility included the Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc and Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company Plc which received cheques valued at N5.16 billion and N11.36 billion respectively.
New Electricity Tariff Takes Effect amidst Protest
The proposed new electricity tariff regime came into force in February as earlier scheduled even as it sparked protests across the country, perhaps, due to lack of adequate information on the side of the people. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had announced the removal of fixed charges, saying consumers would now have to pay for “only what they consume”.
“Although, the new tariff regimes came with an increase in energy charges, all electricity consumers (residential as well as commercial) will no longer pay fixed charges, so their total bills will depend on the electricity they actually consume and may be reduced when they conserve electricity. This is to be through use of prepaid meter, which has been recommended in place of the controversial estimated billing system.
This means the energy charges were increased, but consumers pay as they consume by the reading of meter.
Nigeria Attained All Time High Power Generation
The country attained the highest ever wheeled energy (power generation) of 5074 megawatts as at February, 2016, but not sustained.
After attaining a peak of 5,074.7 megawatts on February 2, 2016, power generation in the country summersaulted losing 488.7MW within six days and dropping to 4,586MW on February 8.
Similarly, energy generation fell by 774.04MW in the same period to 4,300.66MW, resulting in a reduction in the amount of energy sent out to electricity consumers, which was put at 4,212.32MW.
Figures from the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing showed that the country’s peak power demand was still 12,800MW.
CBN Releases 4th Tranche of Intervention Fund
In continuation of its efforts to stem the tide of liquidity and funding challenges facing the power sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), in May 2016, disbursed the fourth tranche of N55 billions, which is under the N 213bn Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilization Facility (NEMSF), to 24 industry participants including three DISCOs, 14 GENCOs, one service provider and six gas companies.
Unveiling of the Power Sector Reform Roadmap By The Minister
Another landmark of the power journey in May, 2016 was the unveiling of the Power Sector Reform Roadmap by the Hon. Minister. This made it a second time of unveiling after it was launched in 2010 and reviewed in 2013. During the unveiling Fashola noted, “The problems have been identified as either damaged, unmaintained or unserviced turbines in the hydro power plants, and in the cases of gas plants, it is largely non-availability of gas coupled with lack of maintenance.”
He cited the example of Jebba Hydro plant, which he said was commissioned by General Muhammadu Buhari in 1985 with 6 turbines to provide 540MWs of power, and meant to be overhauled every 5-6 years, but was not serviced for 28 years as at 2013 that the privatisation took place.
In addition to this immediate plan, TCN has expressed desire to increase transmission capacity from 5, 000MWs to 7, 000, 1, 0000, 13, 000, 16, 000, and to 20, 000MWs in 5 years.
Transfer of TCN management to Nigerian team
It was a landmark in the Nigerian power industry at the end of July as Manitoba Hydro International (MHI), the foreign company that had been handling management of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), handed over the management of the company to their Nigerian counterpart. This followed the expiration of MHI’s contract at the power transmission company.
The Nation Experiences Record Low Power Crisis As 10 Plants Shut Down
Following what was described by many as system collapse, the nation’s power generation fell by over 1,000 megawatts as four power plants were down, bringing the total number of plants not generating electricity at the moment to 10, thus plunging households and businesses into hopeless darkness.
The nation recorded a total system collapse on Friday, September 16, 2016, the 17th time this year, as revealed by industry data.
The plants that were shut down after the collapse included Olorunsogo I and Olorunsogo II in Ogun State; Omotosho II in Ondo State; and Ihovbor located in Edo State, with installed capacities of 294MW, 500MW, 500MW and 225MW respectively.
TCN Takes Delivery of 77 Trapped Electricity Containers at Lagos Ports
Just recently, in November, a landmark achievement was recorded by the Transmission Company of Nigeria when it took delivery of 77 stranded of 218 containers of electricity equipment left for over 8 years in Lagos Ports.
The Hon. Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, represented by CEO of TCN, Mr Tanbuwa Atiku, said with the delivery of the power equipment, whose containers were collected at the Duncan Ports, Nigerians would begin to experience effective power supply.
Power Generation Report For January, 2017 Shows A dramatic turn
The operational report of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry ( NESI) revealed that power generation which been on low side rose to a peak generation of 4, 959 MWs on January 4, but dropped in a few days to a damn too low of 2, 662 MWs as at January 22, 2017, and later climbed sailed through February and March with an average of 3, 000 to 3, 500MWs.
NERC Gets New Board Of Commissioners
One of the landmark events that have taken place in the power sector in few months into 2017 is the inauguration of a new board of commissioners for NERC. The regulatory body has been operating without a board under the acting chairmanship of Mr Anthony Akah, and this means it could not take any major decision for the sector to move forward.
The new board however without a chairman. Six Commissioners, instead of seven as stipulated by the law setting the body up, were inaugurated by the Hon. Minister on February, 2017 in Abuja under a Vice-Chairman in the person Engr Sanusi Garba.
REA Gets New Board, Management
In another landmark development, the federal government on May 2, 2017 in Abuja inaugurated a new board and executive management of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), which had been under an interim management. Thus the agency became fully empowered thenceforth stir its affairs, a very development you may want to say for improved electricity throughout the country.
Inaugurating the board which is comprised of 6 members, one from each of the geopolitical zones, chaired by Engr Umaru Mazamaza, the Hon. Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, SAN, urged them to be focused on channelling their energy towards ensuring that the targeted public are empowered economically and otherwise through provision of electricity by completing all the old and new ongoing projects.