Power: TCN Rolls out $7.5bn Five-year Network Upgrade Plan

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  • Says distribution is sector’s weakest link Manitoba’s four years contract cost govt $34m

Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) monday rolled out plans for the implementation of a five-year upgrade of Nigeria’s electricity transmission network from its present 5,500 megawatts (MW) wheeling capacity to 11,500MW by 2020.

TCN disclosed that the five -year plan would cost it $7.5 billion, adding that the huge funding will be sourced mainly from a mix of the federal government’s annual budgetary appropriation to it, concessionary loans and grants from multilateral financial and aids institutions as well as contractor-financing model.The acting Managing Director of TCN, Abubakar Tambuwal Atiku, disclosed this to journalists at a press briefing in Abuja.

He was supported by TCN’s Executive Director, Finance and Accounts, Mr. Sonny Iroche; its Executive Director, System Operations, Musa Gumel, and Tom Uwah who manages the Transmission Service Provider (TSP) department at the briefing.

The four had recently taken over the management of the company after government ended its business relationship with Canadian Manitoba Hydro International which managed TCN for four years on a contractual basis.

Atiku also said out of the N50 billion the company requested from the government in the 2016 budget, N30 billion was approved for it while N9 billion has been allocated so far, but it is still not within its account.

“We hope to increase our capacity to 7500MW with the completion of 31 projects by the end of 2017; TCN has mapped out strategies to boost its capacity to 8200MW by the end of 2018, this we intend to achieve with the completion of eight new projects in 2018.

“In the realisation of 10,000MW as envisaged in 2019, our five-year expansion plan has 66 projects to be completed, leading to a total wheeling capacity of 11,500MW by 2019. The plan has also been carefully developed with the aim of realising stable power supply by 2020,” said Atiku.

He gave a breakdown of how the company hopes to raise funds for this, saying: “The ongoing and new projects cannot be realised without adequate financial resources; TCN therefore anticipates that the federal government, as the sole owner of the company, will facilitate funding of the various projects.

“Apart from the government appropriation, TCN is also supported through funding agencies like AfDB, ADB, World Bank and special funds from the Eurobond, China-Exim Bank and JICA.

“Expected funding in terms of concessionary loans and grants from these agencies is put at $3.4 billion; federal government is expected to bring in about $1.5 billion for the five year period, while the proposed investor-financing initiatives by TCN is expected to contribute about $2.6 billion, this makes an estimated total funding requirement of $7.5 billion for the five-year expansion plan.”

Atiku said the TCN had moved away from its past history of incompetence and was focused on ensuring that there is no stranded power from the generation companies. He added that going forward; stability of the grid would be guaranteed without system collapse under all circumstances.

“We intend to achieve this by changing our operational ways of conducting business along two major business practices of Transmission Service Provider and Independent System Operator. These two entities are to be empowered financially and administratively to deliver on our mandate.

“TSP is to focus on expansion and upgrade of TCN assets; ISO will provide the interface between the power generators and distributors by ensuring optimum dispatch of electricity. It will also be responsible for overseeing the market operations,” he noted.

While responding to questions about the integrity and capacity of his team, Atiku said they were carefully selected in 2012 to understudy Manitoba and are now equal to the task of managing TCN in a cost efficient manner.

According to him, “My management team has the support of the entire workforce of the TCN who shares the belief that only Nigerians can make Nigeria great, not foreign expatriates whose interest is their gains.”

He stated that all outstanding contracts entered with Manitoba for TCN by stakeholders would remain valid and enforced in line with agreed contractual obligations.

The TUC boss also disclosed that the government in its four years engagement of Manitoba, committed $34 million to the contract. He explained that concessionary loans offered to TCN by the likes of the World Bank were still intact and not withdrawn. He equally took a swipe at stakeholders in the country’s power sector who have labeled it as the weakest link in the value chain, saying it was the electricity distribution companies (Discos) and not TCN that is the sector’s weakest link.

“We don’t share the belief that we are the weakest link. So far, we have been able to take generated power to the Discos which still reject powers and load-shed their customers.

“Load rejection is still happening and the Discos know that. We know those that still reject loads because the System Operator monitors on a 24 hour basis, and we can tell the Disco that does that,” he said to buttress his claims.