Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The federal government will invest about N72 billion to improve distribution infrastructure in the 11 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed.
Fashola said the investment would be part of the governmentâ€™s 40 per cent shareholding in the Discos. He noted that while the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the investment plan, adverts calling for original equipment manufacturers (OEM) for transformers and other distribution equipment to come up with their proposals have gone out and the government was waiting for responses.
Speaking through the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr. Louis Edozien, when he commissioned a 132/33kV transmission substation with a 40MVA transformer that was built by the Transmission Company of Nigeria in Mayo Belwa area of Adamawa State on Sunday evening, the minister charged the 11 Discos to invest more in their networks to complement the grid expansion efforts of the TCN and the governmentâ€™s N72 billion commitment to their networks.
He further confirmed this yesterday while presiding over the May 2018 edition of the monthly power sectorsâ€™ operators meeting in Yola, capital of Adamawa State.
â€œI can also report that we are making progress on the federal governmentâ€™s planned intervention in the distribution value chain to help deliver the 2,000MW that is constrained by distribution equipment.
â€œThe advertisements for quotation by original equipment manufacturers for transformers, breakers, and associated equipment compiled by the Discos have been published, and we await responses,â€ said Fashola.
The government had within the privatisation exercise retained 40 per cent stake in the Discos. The planned financial intervention would be the first ever direct funding to the Discos by the government since the exercise was completed in 2013.
Also, it had provided a N701.9 billion Payment Assurance Guarantee (PAG) to support the Generation Companies (Gencos) through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET), just as the CBN disbursed a loan facility worth N213 billion under its Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Fund (NEMSF) to all operators in the power sector including the Discos.
During the commissioning the TCN facility, Fashola said with the new 40MVA Mayo Belwa substation, over seven towns in Adamawa, including Mayo Belwa, Numan, Jada and Lamorde will witness improved electricity delivery.
He added that ministry complemented efforts of the TCN by installing distribution transformers in the franchise area.
â€œWith this development, TCN has not only improved the quality of power in this area but it has also increased the wheeling capacity of TCN which was last simulated in December 2017 to be above 7,000 megawatts,â€ he said.
According to him, TCN has acquired vast lands to upgrade the new substation to a 330/132/33KV substation and its 132/33KV Jalingo substation to evacuate more power to states in the North-east.
He said while the procurement has advanced, the 330/132/33KV Yola substation will be upgraded by 350MVA capacity as a 150MVA, and two units of 100MVA transformers will be installed along with other equipment.
To further upgrade power supply in the North-east, the minister explained that the government has resolved get past the hurdles of completing the 40 megawatts (MW) Dadin Kowa hydropower plant in Gombe State.
He noted that the transmission line for the plant would be completed by the TCN which will also install Static Var Compensator (SVC) in Gombe to improve the quality of power in the region.
On the operations of the Yola Disco since it was handed back to the government in 2015 by its core investor – Integrated Energy and Distribution Marketing Company (IEDM), which declared a force majeure on its operation, Fashola stated that the governmentâ€™s decision to hold on to the running of the Disco had paid off.
He said so far, the government has been able to prove that the Disco can operate viably and was not a waste, adding that Yola Disco has since its return to the government picked up and improved on its operations.
According to him, about 80 per cent of the power lines within the Discoâ€™s network that were damaged by Boko Haram have been restored and working.
Besides Fasholaâ€™s claims, the Managing Director of Yola Disco, Mr. Mustapha Baba-Umara, disclosed that the Disco has improved its revenue collection by 200 per cent, an indication that it has limited challenges with collecting its revenues for electricity supplied to consumers in its network.
â€œMany of you will remember that in 2015, Yola Disco was the only one of the 11 privatised Discos that was given up as being unviable. But this government did not give up on Yola Disco. The government appointed Mustapha to manage this Disco.
â€œMonth after month, from reports we have all received about performance and monthly rating of Discos, it is obvious that Mustapha and his team have proven that Yola Disco is not unviable. At this forum, I will repeat what I have said about change, that it is not a matter of chance but a matter of choice,â€ said Fashola.
He further stated: â€œSimilarly, it is not an event but a process that involves the application of methods and the making of choices, some of which are difficult, but very often resourceful, even if sometimes misunderstood. The story of Yola Disco epitomises change and it speaks eloquently to our roadmap of incremental power.
â€œFrom my very first visit to inspect the resumption of work at the Maiduguri TCN substation, which had been damaged by insurgents, to the completion of the Mayo-Belwa TCN substation and the installation of distribution infrastructure by Yola Disco, incremental power is returning to the customers within the Yola Disco franchise.â€
â€œ80 per cent of damaged 33kV lines have been restored in areas like Damboa, Madagali, Maiduguri, Damasak, Gombi, Mubi, Wukari to mention a few,â€ the minister added