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Nigeria’s power situation worsens as stakeholders blame frequent grid collapses, gas shortage

In major cities, including Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, residents are complaining about the worsening power supply, which electricity distribution companies have attributed to low power generation occasioned by gas shortages.

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States across the country and the Federal Capital Territory are currently experiencing another pang of power outages as the searing heat from the prevailing weather conditions continues to bite harder.

Many communities have been experiencing total darkness for several weeks since the new year began.

Persecondnews gathered that some states in the Southwest, including Ogun, Osun, Ondo, and Ekiti, seem to be the worst hit, as they haven’t had electricity for over two weeks.

In major cities, including Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, residents are complaining about the worsening power supply, which electricity distribution companies have attributed to low power generation occasioned by gas shortages.

The blackout, which has persisted for weeks, has disrupted daily life, especially as owners of businesses that rely on electricity have been grumbling over their losses.

Persecondnews recalls that the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said in January that there has been a gradual decrease in available generation into the grid due to gas constraints.

The company added that this has impacted the quantum of bulk power available on the transmission grid for onward transmission to the distribution load centres nationwide.

Nigeria has struggled with poor power supply for decades, as it generates less than 5,000 megawatts of electricity daily for a population of over 200 million people, a challenge that is estimated to cost businesses about $29 billion a year, according to the World Bank.

A Tracking SDG7 Energy Progress Report, compiled by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations (UN), and the World Health Organisation (WHO), revealed that Nigeria has the largest number of people lacking access to electricity globally, with about 86 million of its over 200 million population lacking access to power.

Business owners groan
Business owners have raised concern over the several days of blackouts currently being witnessed in parts of the country.

Some business owners who rely on power expressed their displeasure to Persecondnews during a visit to their shops.

“I sell cold drinks and snacks. You know this is the heat period, and most people crave cold drinks, especially after walking under this scorching sun.

“The light situation in this area has been terrible for the past week. Some days we’ll have light for just an hour or two, while sometimes we won’t see light for a full day or two.

“For the past one week, I have been running on a generator to keep my drinks cold. You know how expensive fuel is now; a litre is N680. I had to increase almost everything I’m selling by N50 and N100, apart from sachet water, to enable me to make a small profit.

“I had to convert my generator set from fuel to gas last week, and it cost me N100,000. Although gas is more expensive, it doesn’t burn as fast as fuel, so it’s far more economical,” a resident of Phase IV, Kubwa, Mrs. Agnes Odu, said.

Another business owner, Mr. Ugochukwu Emmanuel, who also has a shop in Kubwa, a suburb in FCT, where he sells frozen foods such as chicken, turkey, and fish, among others, said he depends mostly on the solar power he installed to run his cold room business.

“When I started this business last February, anytime there’s no light for days, I will be at a loss because some things, especially fish, will get spoiled. After experiencing that on three different occasions, I had to look for money to install solar power.

“I’m not really feeling the blackout in my shop because of the solar; I only feel it at home because of the heat, and it’s really inconveniencing,” he explained.

In the same vein, a business/computer centre owner opposite Nasarawa State University Keffi (NSUK), Mr. Adamu Usman, said in a phone interview with Persecondnews that he has been relying on his generator set for business for the past 10 days.

“The light here has not been constant at all. For the past 10 days, we haven’t had a steady power supply. When they give us power, it doesn’t last for up to three hours before they take it. When they take it, they won’t restore it until the next day. The last time we had light was on Friday morning. Since that Friday until now (Sunday), we have not had power.

“I have been using Gen, and it hasn’t been easy for me because of the cost of fuel. I had to increase my services; those for which I charge N200 are now N300, N400 is now N500, etc. There are some, like binding, that I had to increase by N300. That’s the only way I can make my profit,” Usman added.

Discos give reasons for insufficient power supply; apologise
Meanwhile, electricity distribution companies (DisCos) have attributed the current shortage in power supply to insufficient power allocation from the grid.

The DisCos made this known in separate statements shared on their various social media pages.

In a statement, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) said that due to the low power allocation, it has been constrained to manage the issue throughout its franchise by implementing load curtailment directives.

“This will involve an occasional temporary interruption of power supply to certain areas for a limited period,” AEDC said.

Also, the daily load allocation, as posted by the AEDC on February 18, for FCT, Nasarawa, Niger, and Kogi stood at 471 megawatts.

The distribution company that revealed this on their X page (formerly Twitter) wrote: “Please be informed that we are currently experiencing reduced load allocation as indicated in the PSA above. This, in turn, has led to a decrease in power supply to our customers. Kindly be assured that we will continue to manage the situation. Do bear with us.”

On its part, Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC), in a statement on February 15, also attributed the situation within its franchise to a “significant drop in allocation from the national grid.”.

“We are in touch with all stakeholders with a view to remedying the situation. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your patience and understanding,” BEDC said.

Also, in a statement on February 13, signed by its management, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) said the reduced power supply is “as a result of the low allocation stemming from gas shortages to the generating companies.”.

“We deeply apologise for the current limited supply you are experiencing. This is a result of the low allocation stemming from gas shortages to the generating companies.

“Please be assured that we are working with all relevant stakeholders to restore normalcy within the shortest possible time. Once again, we ask that you kindly bear with us during this difficult time,” it said.

In the same vein, Eko DisCo, in a statement on February 13, said low allocation from the grid, resulting from gas shortages to the generating companies, is the reason for the current limited power supply that customers are experiencing.

FG Can’t Continue to Subsidise Electricity, Says Power Minister
The Minister of Power, Mr. Adebayo Adelabu, has said the federal government can’t continue to subsidise electricity.

He added that the nation must begin to move towards a cost-effective tariff model, as the country is currently indebted to the tune of N1.3 trillion to generating companies (GenCos) and $1.3 billion to owed gas companies.

Adelabu, who disclosed this while addressing journalists at a conference in Abuja recently, said only N450 billion was budgeted for subsidy this year, but the ministry needs over N2 trillion for it.

He said state governments will now be allowed to generate power independently to supply power to their states.

Speaking on the reoccurring grid collapse, he said this was caused by a shortage of gas, ageing machines in the grid value chain, a low capacity to evacuate generated power, and the destruction of power stations in some parts of the north-east geopolitical zone of the country.

According to the minister, the Transmission Company of Nigeria has over 100 abandoned projects due to variations in contract figures as a result of the fluctuations of the forex; hence, the company will not award any new contracts until all such projects are completed.

He disclosed that over N50 billion had been earmarked in the 2024 budget to build mini-grids to supply power to remote areas.

Will Nigeria’s erratic power problem ever come to an end? This is one question from Nigerians that has continued to beg for answers.

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