By Chineme OkaforÂ in Abuja
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the West African Power Pool (WAPP) have initiated plans to build a second 330 kilovolt (kV) transmission line to boost electricity supply to the Republic of Benin by 2021.
The Interim Managing Director of TCN and Chairman, WAPP, Mr. Usman Gur Mohammed, disclosed this at a meeting to kick-off the project’s Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Study in Abuja yesterday.Â
Mohammed said the transmission section of Nigeria’s power sector was also targeting to attain 20,000 megawatts (MW) transmission capacity within the next three years.
He said: “The second 330kV Ikeja West transmission line to Sakete in Benin Republic is necessary as the first could soon be constrained by the demand for more power from the Nigerian grid increase.”Â
Mohammed explained that transmission was no longer the weakest link in the countryâ€™s electricity sectorâ€™s value chain as TCN now had a robust rehabilitation and expansion plan that had been endorsed by the ministries of power and finance and development partners.
“TCN is no longer the weakest link in the power value chain as it is fast tracking the implementation of many power projects.Â
“The transmission rehabilitation and expansion programme seeks to expand the grid to about 20,000MW in the next three years. It is also intended to support the current institutional reform that will make TCN a 21st century compliant transmission firm,” Mohammed stated.
According to him, the TCN has also embarked on a nationwide installation of transmission transformers with three installed in Lagos last week, two scheduled for the north and another three in the Port Harcourt region shortly.
He said the TCN had saved cost of the installations of the transformers as the in-house engineers handled the projects at less than 10 per cent cost of what contractors would have used in the past.
The WAPP project, he noted would be supported by the New Partnership for Africaâ€™s Development (NEPAD) and African Development Bank (AfDB), and that the ESIA study would be conducted in six months after which the construction would take another 24 months and then ready by 2021.Â
Similarly, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing (Power), Louis Edozien, said in his remarks at the meeting that: “The ministryâ€™s primary responsibility is to satisfy the electricity needs of Nigerians. We are committed to integrating the international electricity market but our primary responsibility is to satisfy Nigerians. Currently Nigerians are not satisfied.”Â
He urged the Community Electric du Benin (CEB), the power firm of Benin Republic to immediately settle accumulated electricity debts.
“The electricity that we have already supplied is not paid. I use this platform to emphasise to CEB that the debts that have accumulated needs to be settled quickly. It helps us explain to Nigerians why we should expand the supply by doing this kind of project. A mechanism must be in place to make sure the debts do not balloon again, that debts are paid for promptly,” Edozien said.
Expressing support for the project, Edozien said the electricity generation companies (Gencos) now have 7,000MW capacity but the distribution companies (Discos) were doing around 4,600MW capacity, noting that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) was helping them to bridge their investment requirements.
He noted that as Discos improve their capacity, the Gencos should also rise further so they could export the surplus electricity generated through WAPP to neighbouring countries that needed the energy.
The Director General of CEB, Dr. Karimou Chabi Sika lauded the project, saying it provided an opportunity to sustain the West African nation system. Sika also said the project on completion would ensure adequate power supply to the people of Benin Republic.