It will take more than another grant to increase Nigeria’s power generation


France has granted 170 million dollars towards improving power supply in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, where supply dipped to about 120MW in July from multiple system failure.The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Denys Gauer announced this on Thursday in Abuja in a remark at the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo 2015.

But while this may eventually contribute to the development of the electricity transportation network, Nigeria’s power sector may not record any further improvement. At the current plant commissioning rate, supply will barely meet 9,500 megawatts by 2020, according to a 2014 World Bank project document.

Despite huge investments pumped into the sector annually, little or no improvement has been recorded in the last decade and more. In the last 16 years, power generation has not increased beyond 4,500 megawatts. Nigeria has only been able to increase its electricity generating capacity from about 2,000MW in 1999 to about 4,500MW in 2013 even though federal government spent about N5 trillion ($31.45 billion) from 1999 to 2013.

A lot of effort has been invested into the improvement of supply, all in a bid to end to the epileptic power situation in the country.Although promises of targets between 4,000 and 6,000 megawatts came off as attainable over the years, it has always been a challenge to meet up with deadlines set for improved energy output. Recording improved energy output takes time; from creating a design to building and installing the necessary facilities to include power plants. Perhaps the federal government has remained short sited when it comes to projects in relation to increased power generation.

The journey so far 

The power sector has in recent times been threatened by frequent vandalism of gas pipelines and other facilities.

At the beginning of the year, power generation in Nigeria slumped to 3,500 megawatts from a peak of about 4,517 MW due to vandalism of pipelines and insufficient gas supply; reasons that have reappeared more frequently in recent government reports. Specifically, the shortage in power supply has been linked to the purported sabotage of the Transforcados pipeline which transports more than 60 percent of crude oil processed at the SPDC (Shell) Forcados Terminal. Also in September, there were reports that Nigeria’s power sector gulped N2.740 trillion within the span of 16 years

In 2014, During the launch of the Nigeria Renewable Energy for All initiative in Benin City, capital of Nigeria’s Edo State, Godfrey Ogbemudia, Programme Director of Community Research and Development Center (CREDC) revealed that Nigerians spend about $4.98 billion (N796.4 billion) every year in a bid to power their generating units and service their power needs.

Last year,  Power Africa awarded three $100,000 grants to entrepreneurs for innovative, off-grid energy projects in Nigeria. Partnering with Heirs Holding, UBA Capital, General Electric, Africa Finance Corporation, Africa Development Bank, the World Bank and at least 6 other financial institutions, to make more funding available for boosting electrical power in Africa’s largest economy.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Nigerian opinion polling and research organization, NOI polls, recently released a report stating that 64% of households across Nigeria “experienced tremendous improvement in power supply over the third quarter (Q3) of 2015 (July – September 2015)”. The opinion poll conducted from January 2013 till September 2015 was done through telephone interviews with a random sample of 33,000 people across Nigeria.

While it may be to early to ascertain whether this improvement can be attributed to foreign grants or perhaps better management in tracking overall output, further development can only be recorded when these two factors are aligned.

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