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Power interruptions: Our national curse

Nigeria’s electricity sector dates back to the colonial era when the electricity supply was mainly from diesel generators owned by industrial establishments including factories and…

Nigeria’s electricity sector dates back to the colonial era when the electricity supply was mainly from diesel generators owned by industrial establishments including factories and mines as well as other institutions such as hospitals and schools.

Nigeria’s national electricity grid has collapsed many times in the past years resulting in blackouts throughout the country. The blackouts, which prevent people from meeting routine business and household needs, result in huge economic and social costs.

At best, average power supply daily is estimated at four hours; days can go by without any power supply at all.

Power outages have been hindering the country’s industrial growth, restricting business expansion, profitability and well-being of its people.

There are also health risks from the emissions of inefficient generators, which are widely used in Nigeria.

Since 2005, Nigeria’s power reforms focused on the privatising generation and distribution of power and encouraging private investment in the power sector.

The country’s grid requires upgrades to help meet the needs of electricity consumers. One of the major problems hindering the performance of electricity distribution in Nigeria is load rejection. Load rejection occurs when the distribution companies reject electricity transmitted by the transmission companies. The rejection is partly due to the poor state of the transmission and distribution network and faulty power lines.

Another problem facing power generation in Nigeria is non-payment of bills by consumers. For example, consumers in communities hosting power generation plants perceive that they own the electricity generated in their locality and refuse to pay for the power consumed.

Other challenges plaguing the sector include high levels of distribution losses, lack of revenue due to the non-payment of bills and also poor tariff structure, which makes it difficult for power utilities to make significant investments to improve the sector due to financial constraints.

Opportunities, however, remain in the sector for the introduction of renewable energy sources into the generation mix, seeing that the country has potential for solar power generation and other renewable energy sources. The country should also introduce more competition into the sector to improve performance.

 

Fatima Dauda Salihu, Department of Mass Communication, Bayero University, Kano

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