By Chineme Okafor
Nigeria’s national grid failed at least once every month between 2009 and 2019, throwing the country into darkness, a report on the status of the electricity industry has disclosed.
Prepared by Spanish energy consulting firm, AF-Mercados EMI for the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) – the umbrella trade association of 10 electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria – the report equally noted that none of the Discos’ networks can guarantee stable electricity supply to Nigerians.
It stated that a comprehensive revamp of the Discos’ network would be needed to guarantee quality and efficient service delivery.
The report which was obtained by THISDAY also explained that the report was done under the, ‘Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Program for the Nigerian Power Distribution Sector.’
It was equally supported by the European Union (EU), mostly to proffer solutions to the challenges of the Discos.
“Between 2010 and 2019, Nigerian electricity consumers have had to contend with 206 power grid collapse, ten of which occurred in 2019,” the report stated.
On the basis of this, THISDAY’s computation of the figures showed that an average of 20 system collapses was recorded every year within the period, further resulting to at least a collapse every month.
According to the report the number of collapses were recorded because the country’s transmission grid is “able to transmit only 3.5 to 4.5GW of power efficiently.”
It noted that records obtained from the System Operator (SO) department of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) indicated this.
The report stated that: “While several hundred megawatts of power are regularly lost due to breakdowns. Industry, commerce and private households are suffering from a severe shortfall in electricity generation.”
Frequent interruptions of power supply, it further disclosed, have forced most of the country’s commercial and industrial customers to rely fully or partially on self-generation.
“Poor power supply is the biggest challenge to manufacturers, especially the ones in the small and medium enterprises sector, because they rely almost totally on public power supply. Even if the grid supply is available to a commercial or industrial installation, it is not continuous.
“There are frequent interruptions throughout the day resulting into loss of production and even failure of equipment. Many commercial and industrial customers are thus not willing to take supply from Discos.
“Inadequate generation, transmission, and distribution network is resulting into extremely low reliability of power supply especially to commercial and industrial customers. This situation is resulting into enhanced usage of generators by residents, commercial, and industrial customers.
“Current estimates indicate that over 90 per cent of businesses and 30 per cent of homes have diesel-powered generators, meaning that there are currently about 15 million generators in Nigeria,” the report explained.
On the reliability levels of the Discos’ networks, it explained that, “the reliability performance of almost all Discos in Nigeria is much worse than best in class utilities.
“The responsibility of this situation is not that of Discos but variety of other reasons.”
It listed factors responsible for such low level of reliability to include inadequate power generation, inadequate and dilapidated transmission and distribution network, poor upkeep of transmission and distribution network and lack of investment.
Because of this, it stated that all the Discos currently have a great amount of suppressed load, with only residential customers as the main off-takers of electricity from the national grid.
The report explained that the poor paying capacity of majority of these customers is the real reason for very high aggregate technical commercial and collection (ATC&C) losses of the Discos.
“Poor condition of the distribution system is seriously affecting the quality and reliability of power. As a result, the residential, commercial, and industrial customers are forced to use self-generation to meet their daily requirements.
“This is not only leading to financial loss to utility and customers, but also causing great loss to Nigerian Economy. Nearly 81 per cent of the households gets less than eight hours electricity every day thus relying on self-generation. The cost of generating electricity through diesel gen-sets is reported to be in the vicinity of Naira 70/KWh to 130/kWh against the grid allowed tariff of Naira 28/KWh,” it added.
To address the Discos’ unreliability, the report stated that with the main reasons for the unsafe and unreliable network being attributable to poor planning and design of feeders and injection substations amongst others, the Discos will have to redesign the network to increase their reliability.