About six month into a 2020 target set by the Federal Government to boost power transmission wheeling capacity to 10,000 megawatts (MW), stakeholders in the nation’s electricity sector yesterday insisted the plan is only a mirage.
The plan, which is part of a Transmission Master Plan, designed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), had highlighted steps to add 10,000MW electricity wheeling capacity by 2020.
The Master Plan, expected to gulp N805.7 billion ($2.238billion) equally targets a wheeling capacity of 15,000MW by 2025, with finance options from about eight foreign banks as well as donations from the World Bank.
While the Managing Director of the TCN, Usman Gur Mohammed, had repeatedly said the plans were feasible, experts including Partner, Nextier Power, Emeka Okpukpara; former Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi, as well as Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, Dr Joy Ogaji, said the plan is impossible.
TCN said it has about 8,100MW transmission capacity, but in the real sense, only an average 4,00WM is available to power. Indeed, most stakeholders believe the target was fabricated for political propaganda as power supply in Nigeria has remained epileptic.
Amadi said prevailing situation in the transmission sub-sector indicates that the plan could be difficult to achieve, saying: “There is no basis to expect such miracle in six months. With the capacity in execution that we have seen so far, the sector cannot operate at that level of efficiency.”
Although the transmission sector receives investment shares when compared with the rest of the value chain, especially distribution, Amadi insisted that the transmission segment is the main bottleneck of Nigeria’s electricity supply chain.
He said: “We generally believe that transmission is the main bottleneck; if power is not evacuated then the DisCos can’t supply and when there is transmission failure everything is affected. So we need to expand to enhance the capacity and reliable grid. But it is counterintuitive in a sense, because if DisCos are inefficient, then they will hobble the reliability of transmission.
Grid failure on the Discos’ side also affects transmission capabilities. So failure in the industry is self-reinforcing. We need quality spending on all sides of the value chain, but since DisCos and Gencos are privately owned, government shouldn’t be spending on them but rather enhance financial sector willingness to invest in them.”
Okpukpara noted that Nigeria has not done anything differently to achieve a 10,000MW in the next six months, stressing that the money required to fund the capacity could equally remain a challenge.
According to him, the transmission network in the country is outdated, thereby a wide range of assets are scattered across the country, which require urgent repair.
Part of the TCN’s master plan included the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Plan (TREP), being implemented through the Nigeria Electricity and Gas Improvement Project (NEGIP), a facility from the World Bank.
He said there was need for priority projects, adding that the transmission sector has a reasonable level of investment inflow, which can only yield desired results if prioritised.
Ogaji, who shared the opinion of other stakeholders, was pessimistic about increasing transmission capability to 10,000MW in six months, noting that the master plan may not bring the needed solution.
She said the current Key Performance Indicator (KPI) from the transmission segment does not support the feasibility of the plan, saying: “We have just about six months to next year. We are told there is 8,100MW but Nigerians are not fools, the capacity is not realistic.”