Magazine article New African

Changing the Face of the Power Sector: Nigeria's Power Sector Is Witnessing an Impressive Improvement in Infrastructure

Magazine article New African

Changing the Face of the Power Sector: Nigeria's Power Sector Is Witnessing an Impressive Improvement in Infrastructure

Article excerpt

Nigeria's Power sector now has a reform-friendly face. Under its present structure, the Ministry of Power is responsible for formulating the sector's policies. Its administrative structure also provides leadership. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), an autonomous body, which reports to the House of Assembly, is responsible for developing and implementing regulation, while the Generation and Distribution companies are now being managed by private operators. Other government agencies, such as the Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP), the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET), the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO), the Electricity Management Services (EMS), the Nigeria Power Training Institute (NAPTIN) and the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) will take charge of operations.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) is currently under a management contract agreement with Manitoba Hydro International of Canada. The Nigerian government still has ultimate responsibility, owning 100% of the shares, with a promise to allow private investors to come in the near future.

The Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) has been established to cushion the effects of the distribution companies' initial teething problems in meeting their payment obligations for power supplied to them by the generation companies. The Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) has been incorporated to ensure effective management of the non-core assets of PHCN, after the unbundling and privatisation of its assets. These are just some examples of an extensive reform process already set out in the power roadmap. Other key steps have been an ambitious infrastructural development programme that has seen the construction of new dams and rehabilitation of existing ones, and the construction of gas power plants under the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP).

Increasing hydro-power capacity and transmission-grid reliability

The government's commitment to boost power generation has not been solely focused on the use of gas. The country's existing hydroelectric power infrastructure is being upgraded with the addition of new hydro-power plants to take advantage of the country's huge hydro potential. There are also extensive efforts to expand the country's transmission grid to ensure effective delivery power.

The hydroelectric power projects currently being developed across the country include the 700MW Zungeru hydro dam located in the country's northwestern state of Niger. There are other major hydro power projects that will exponentially boost power generation. These projects have reached an advanced stage of completion, such as the 360MW Gurara II project, also in Niger state; and the 3,050MW Mambilla, and the 40MW Kashimbilla power projects, both in the north-eastern state of Taraba. These are key projects that promise to significantly boost power supply in the country.

There are also small and medium-scale hydropower projects nationwide. Altogether there are 10 such small hydro dams under construction, expected to produce considerable power to serve several communities. The combined capacity of these dams will considerably boost the country's power generation potential.

The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Power, and a key driver of the increased pace witnessed in the power sector, Ambassador Boladei Igali, says the government's target of generating 40,000MW by 2020 is achievable with the combined generation from Mambilla and Zungeru hydroelectric dams, and other sources such as off-grid power from solar, wind and coal. …

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