Nigeria’s Poor Power Ranking

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Nigeria was recently ranked second worst in electricity supply in the world.
Releasing its 2017 survey of 137 countries on January 15, 2018, world’s top social and economic data analytic firm, The Spectator Index, said that war-torn Yemen ranked worst in electricity supply last year.
The report noted that the average power sent out by the Electricity Generating Companies (GENCOs) stood at 3, 851.06mw, down by 168.58mw, adding that peak generation averaged 4, 425mw, down by 5.5 per cent.
Explaining the poor state of power supply to Nigerians, the Advisory Power Sector Team said that unavailability of gas, low transmission and distribution infrastructure and low water levels contributed to the drop, lamenting that the power sector lost an estimated N1.121billion on January 14 alone due to same challenges.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari in his New Year broadcast told Nigerians that electricity generation had attained 7,000mw at year end, this claim contradicts the 4,108mw figure released by Nigerian Electricity System Operator as verifiable amount of power generated even as the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc admitted that power generation in 2017 achieved new peak of 5,155.9mw and 5,222.3mw on December 8 and 18, respectively.
As if to justify the pain millions of Nigerians are subjected to daily due to lack of power supply, Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola explained last Monday, that while generated power went up to 7,000mw in 2017 from 3,000mw in May 2015, transmission capacity was at 6,900mw from about 5,000mw, while peak distribution averaged 5,000mw from 2,690mw in May 2015.
Regrettably, however, these figures reeled out by the Federal Government fall short of expectation, given that over N2.5trillion has been spent on the power sector between 1999 and 2014. The Central Bank of Nigeria last year also released N701billion funding support to improve power supply. These humongous amounts have painfully gone down the drain as the 7,000mw generation capacity taunted by government is far too little to meet Nigerians’ present electricity demand.
The Tide is saddened that while the United Kingdom with about 30 million population generates 80,000mw, Germany with 30 million population generates 120,000mw and South Africa with 60 million population has 40,000mw, Nigeria with estimated 180 million population generates a paltry 7,000mw. This national shame runs against World Bank standard that puts the ideal rule of thumb for any developing industrial nation at one gigawatt (1,000mw) of electricity generation and consumption per one million population.
It is regrettable that while electricity demand stood at 15,730mw in 2016 and 41,133mw now, the GenCos, TCN and DISCOs still lack the capacity to drive an estimated yearly economic growth rate of between seven and 13 per cent as well as an urbanisation rate of 3.8 per cent in the country. It is, in fact, a national embarrassment that in a nation of about 180 million people, the 11 private DISCOs have only metered seven million customers and are still struggling to capture another two million unmetered customers into the supply chain.
The Tide reckons that this huge deficit justifies the very low customer satisfaction as more than 95 per cent of Nigerians are daily in darkness.
We think that Nigeria’s poor power ranking by The Spectator Index should rouse Nigeria to action because a nation that has perpetually kept about 171 million out of its 180 million citizens in darkness only qualifies as a failed state.
This is why we insist that there is urgent need to intensify the Nigeria Electricity and Gas Improvement Project (NEGIP) and Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREP), to stabilise, expand and provide the needed flexibility to DisCos to effectively supply electricity to their customers.
It is also imperative that investors take advantage of the huge gap between demand and supply and invest heavily in the power sector. In fact, it is high time investors tapped into the abundant fossil fuels and other renewable energy sources, including biomass and wind, to ensure energy sustainability and drive development. We cannot talk of economic growth, employment generation, security and democratic stability without stable and regular power supply to, at least, 150 million Nigerians.
Indeed, time has come for government to completely deregulate the power sector by allowing private investors to generate, transmit and distribute electricity while strengthening legislations to ensure that Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) enforces operators’ compliance with global best practices.