Power Minister explains reason for poor supply, but this is not the first time

In the dry season, during the rainy season, in harmattan, there is a new excuse, but, loans and more loans are collected every other to ‘improve power supply’ in the country. Sometimes, the blame is on a cabal holding down a constant power supply.

In fact, in 2012, former Lagos Governor, Babatunde Fashola, now Federal Minister of Works and Housing, the one who could detect an ‘unseen camera’ after the #EndSARS protests, blamed the crisis rocking the nation’s power sector on some cartels, which he said were undermining the effort directed at fixing the sector.

He also said the protracted epileptic power supply in the past years of this civil rule was another indictment on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled government.

But he is now part of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government and the issues plaguing the power sector has persisted. He was Minister of Power, Works and Housing 2015-2019.

During that period he advised electricity consumers in the country to direct their complaints about the poor power supply and faulty equipment to electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs and Generation Companies, GENCOs.

He said, “if you don’t have electricity, it is not the Federal Government’s problem, take the matter to the people who are operating the power sector, generation and distribution companies.

There are problems without a doubt and we must deal with them. But let me remind you, all of the assets that the Ministry of Power used to control for power have been sold by the last administration before I came. And so, if you don’t have power, it is not the government’s problem. Let us be honest.”

The current Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu has a different case, blaming the low water levels in the hydro dams for the inconstant power supply in the country. 

Aliyu, who spoke at a statehouse briefing Thursday, in Abuja, said the dry season resulted in the reduced hydro capacity of the dams.

I would like to discuss the increased load shedding. You may have observed in Abuja and other areas in the country. With the reduction in hydro capacity during the dry season, additional loads need to be taken up by our gas plants,” he said. 

We are having maintenance work in the Eastern Axis around Odukpani leading to reduced power supply from the usually reliable NDPHC Calabar Power Plant and we are having challenges at Okoloma Gas Station linked to Afam VI power plant.

We are working with NNPC and other gas suppliers also to improve the pressure on the Western Axis that is precluding units from reaching optimum supply.”

He also said there will be an increased energy mix to improve energy security.

We will complete the Zungeru Hydro plant, the Katsina Wind plant, Kashimbila Hydro as well as ensure the challenges with Gurara are permanently resolved (partnering with the Ministry of Water). We are also working to resolve issues that have prevented large on-grid solar from taking off in Nigeria.

We are re-tooling the system operator for improved dispatch optimization based on technologies and improved maintenance schedule alignments across generators.

In a 2014 report, only 45% of Nigeria’s population is connected to the energy grid whilst power supply difficulties are experienced around 85% of the time and are almost nonexistent in certain regions. At best, the average daily power supply is estimated at four hours, although several days can go by without any power at all.

As of February 2021, 43 per cent of Nigerians still had no access to on-grid electricity, according to the World Bank, and Nigeria loses $26.2 billion annually (the equivalent of two per cent of its gross domestic product) due to the lack of reliable electricity.

The Solar Solution?

A 2019 report (PDF) by the director-general of the Energy Commission of Nigeria estimated that if one per cent of Nigeria’s land area were to be covered with a solar technology of five per cent efficiency, about 333,480 megawatts of electricity could be generated, which is “more than enough for the country”.

Experts believe that solar power in Nigeria is currently underutilised.

Why are we ignoring other solutions to power problems and keep throwing blames around?

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