Amid Poor Local Supply, TCN Moves to Boost Electricity Export


Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has indicated readiness to raise the export of electricity to countries across the West African region.

TCN stated that the excess power being generated, which the 11 existing electricity distribution companies (Discos) cannot take to domestic customers would be sold to international customers in the West Africa sub- region.

It also said that at the moment, the hydro and gas power plants generated the cheapest conventional power among others in the region, explaining that this has given it a comparative business advantage over other generation companies in the regional power trade.

Speaking at a meeting of the joint technical working group of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), in Abuja, the TCN Managing Director, Mr. Usman Mohammed, who doubles as the chairman of the WAPP executive board, explained that Nigeria was about to benefit from a couple of high-capacity electricity transmission lines that would connect it with the rest of West Africa.

Mohammed stated that apart from selling power to other countries of West Africa and earning foreign exchange, the expected expansion and synchronisation of the region’s electricity lines could help expand Nigeria’s generation capacity.

The meeting of the WAPP executives, he said, was to advance the grid synchronisation programme.

According to him, “we are doing a meeting for the synchronisation of the interconnections between the various countries. We have three islands – the island that involves Nigeria, Niger and Benin; island that involves Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana; as well as the island that involves Senegal, Mali, Guinea Bissau and the rest. The intention is to synchronise them because WAPP wants to ensure that energy flows from Nigeria to Senegal and back.

“Where energy is cheap, it can flow to where it is demanded and in that respect we can now reduce the cost of electricity in West Africa, which is the most expensive in the world. We want to synchronise to bring our frequency level to that of WAPP standard – 49.80 and 50.20 hertz, which is the standard all of us must look towards. When we achieve that and synchronise our networks, energy will flow across.

“For Nigeria, if you look at the generation and what the distribution networks can take, we don’t have shortage, we have surplus. From the system point of view, we cannot say Nigeria has shortage, the excess we have, we can send to other parts of West Africa but we need to have some few things put in place. One of such is the synchronisation so that we can actually export energy from Nigeria to West Africa,” he said.

Mohammed added that infrastructure was required to take energy across the region, noting that this was why WAPP has revised its master plan which was actually tabled at the committee of council of ministers last week and would be sent to committee of heads of states for them to approve.

“This will enable us to build a 330kV transmission from Senegal right into Nigeria and then provide opportunity for us to connect to North and Central Africa power pool,” Mohammed added.

On the importance of the meeting to Nigeria, Mohammed explained: “For Nigeria, this meeting is very important because, generally, we have comparative advantage in terms of electricity generation. We can generate electricity cheaper here than most parts of West Africa, and if we synchronise our network and make it work perfectly with other parts of the region, then have the infrastructure, people will be able to generate here and sell to other parts of the region. This will create jobs for our people and generate foreign revenue.”

He listed some of the high capacity transmission lines to be built, saying “the 330kV, one of them is from Ikeja to Sakete, the other is from Shiroro to Zungeru, and Kainji to a town called Parakou in northern Benin, and then to northern Togo, Ghana and ends in Cote d’Ivoire.”

“The other 330kV line will run from Senegal to Guinea Bissau, to Mali and then pass through Burkina Faso and meet the line that will run from Nigeria to Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. The study for these lines is ongoing, and we cannot estimate the cost now.

“There is another one which we call the north core, and will run from Nigeria to Niger and Burkina Faso. It will also tee-off from the line that goes to Niger to northern Benin. The aspect of the line that concerns Nigeria is that from Benin Kebbi to the border with Niger and its cost is £27 million,” Mohammed explained.