New Telegraph

Reflection on FG’s move to sell ‘unused’ electricity

Nigeria, a country battling with acute shortage of electricity supply to its citizens, recently announced plans to sell ‘idle’ power to Togo, Niger, Republic of Benin and Burkina Faso. ADEOLA YUSUF, in this report, shows how tongues have been wagging on the information

 

The Chairman of the Executive Board of the West African Power Pool, Sule Abdulaziz, it was, who first dropped the bombshell. Abdulaziz told reporters in Abuja that Nigeria was planning to sell stranded electricity to four countries.

 

The four countries – Niger, Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso – are collaborating to buy the unutilised power produced in Nigeria. Abdulaziz, who is also the acting Managing Director of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), said the four countries were collaborating to make the power purchase from Nigeria through the Northcore Power Transmission Line currently being built.

 

He disclosed this at the WAPP meeting on the Northcore project in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory, where he said: “The power we will be selling is the power that is not needed in Nigeria.

 

The electricity generators that are going to supply power to this transmission line are going to generate that power specifically for this project. So, it is unutilised power.”

 

How Nortcore power sale deal will work

 

According to Abdulaziz, Nigeria is expecting new generators to participate in the energy export for the 875km 330KV Northcore transmission line from Nigeria through Niger, Togo, Benin to Burkina Faso. Abdulaziz said: “In addition, there are some communities that are under the line route, about 611 of them, which will be getting power so that there won’t be just a transmission line passing without impact.”

 

The WAPP chairman said the project, funded by World Bank, French Development Council and the African Development Bank, had recorded progress, adding that the energy ministers would be addressing security issues for the project at another meeting in Abuja.

 

He said: “Nigeria has the greatest advantage among these countries because the electricity is going to be exported from Nigerian Gencos (generation companies). So, from that, the revenue is going to be enhanced and a lot of people will be employed in Nigeria.”

 

The Secretary-General, WAPP, Siengui Appolinaire-Ki, said the  cost of the project was about $570 million, adding that part of the investment in each country would be funded by that particular nation. He said countries in the partnership, including Nigeria, were also being supported by donors.

 

He said the funding agreement was ready as partner countries were awaiting the disbursements. Appolinaire-Ki, however, said the donor agencies had said they needed a Power Purchase Agreement between the buying and the selling countries to be executed before releasing the fund.

 

Reactions trail plan

 

This information came barely months after power Epilepsy landed Nigerian businesses in $58 billion loss in 24 months. Aside this, six in 10 of registered customers are not metered, and their electricity bills are not transparent and clear, World Bank says in damning report about Nigeria’s electricity sector. Businesses in Nigeria lost $58 billion in two years to power supply epilepsy. World Bank, which said this in an estimate about the OPEC country, which is the largest oil producer in Africa, maintained that businessmen in the country are losing each year around $29 billion because of the unreliable power supply. “Businesses in Nigeria lose about $29 billion annually because of unreliable electricity. Nigerian utilities get paid for only a half of electricity they receive,” the World Bank said in a presentation at a virtual meeting with journalists this week, Nigerian outlet Punch reported. Distribution power companies lose money on the electricity they receive as part of it is lost to poor distribution infrastructure and power theft, while another part is lost to customers  not paying their bills, the World Bank said. “Six in 10 of registered customers are not metered, and their electricity bills are not transparent and clear. “This contributes to resistance to pay electricity bills,” according to the World Bank’s Power Sector Recovery Programme fact sheet.

 

Hunger amidst plenty

 

Despite being a major producer of oil and gas, Nigeria is the country with the largest energy access deficit in the world, the World Bank has estimated. A total of 85 million Nigerians do not have access to grid electricity, which means that 43 percent of the population is without access to the grid.

 

 

According to the 2020 World Bank Doing Business report, Nigeria ranks 171 out of 190 countries in getting electricity and electricity access is seen as one of the major constraints for the private sector, the bank said in February this year.

 

Back then, the World Bank approved $500 million to support the government of Nigeria in improving the country’s electricity distribution sector.

 

The project funded by the bank is expected to help to boost electricity access by improving the performance of the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) through a large-scale metering program desired by Nigerians for a long time.

 

Minister clears air on power sale

 

The West African Power pool (WAPP) North Core Regional Interconnection Project, which would aide the sale of electricity from Nigeria to Togo, Benin Republic, Niger and Burkina Faso, has been estimated to cost a total of USD 568 million.

 

The Federal Government  of Nigeria (FGN); African Development Bank (AfDB), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), and the World Bank (WB) are to bear the cost. Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Engr Saleh Mamman, who confirmed this, maintained that completing the West African Power Pool (WAPP) which involves the sub-regional interconnection project, referred to as the 330 kV is a top priority.

 

Delivering his welcoming address at the opening of the first session of the Joint Ministerial Steering Committee of WAPP, Mammah said ths Joint Committee comprises Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso Regional Electricity Interconnection Project in Abuja.

 

The North Core Project involves the construction of approximately 875 km of 330 kV and 24 km 225 kV transmission lines from Nigeria to Burkina Faso, through Niger and Benin Republic with associated substations.

 

He said: “This large-scale project is financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the World Bank (WB) and the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).

 

Which amount to a total of $568 million,” adding that upon completion of the project, the operation and maintenance of the entire infrastructure shall be handed over to the utility companies of the participating countries.

 

He also expressed confidence that, with the commitment and collaborative efforts of WAPP and the development partners, the project would be completed in the 3rd quarter of 2023, and will serve as a sustainable solution and major contributor to the power sector of West Africa.

 

The minister explained that the project is considered a top priority in the infrastructure programme of WAPP. He further stated that the project is aimed at facilitating efficient energy trade in the sub-region among several other benefits.

 

“This has already been presented to the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, and approval was gotten in December 2018. It is also part of the ECOWAS Master Plan for the Development of Regional Generation and Transmission Infrastructure 2019 – 2033,” he said.

According to the minister, the project will also involve the electrification of rural communities located within a 5 km radius on both sides of the line, and the implementation of several environmental and social mitigation measures.

 

In his address, the Secretary- General of WAPP, Mr Siengui Apollinaire Ki, said the project was being implemented according to the new model of an institutional framework for implementation and development by WAPP and the countries concerned. “It is implemented by a Project Management Unit (PMU) which is also tasked to build the infrastructures for the national electricity companies,” he said.

 

According to him, despite the laudable progress made so far with the project, many challenges still remain, he further seeks more commitment of WAPP so as to get the project completed within the target time.

 

Last Line

 

The Federal Government should up its citizens’ sensitisation and orientation programme on power intervention and projects.

 

The need to sell power to other countries when the cirizens are suffering from acute shortage of same electricity has to be edplained to them in clear terms.

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