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SPECIAL REPORT: Why Nigeria’s electricity woes will remain despite Siemens’ 23,000MW target - PREMIUM TIMES

JANUARY 22, 2020

By  Taiwo-Hassan Adebayo

In July last year, the mood of Nigerians was livened up, then some fresh hope followed. President Muhammadu Buhari had just announced a new plan with German tech giant Siemens AG to reverse the hex that is electricity supply in the country where about half of the population lacks grid access, and the rest long-accustomed to blackouts, despite trillions of naira “investments” in decades and abundant energy potential.

The plan, designed by the German company, has three phases, ultimately targeting 25,000 megawatts (MW) of operational capacity long term from 7,000 MW and 11,000 to be achieved by 2021 and 2023, respectively, through the first two phases. The ultimate target is roughly at par with the country’s current peak demand of nearly 26,000 MW.

At the moment, though Nigeria’s installed electricity generation capacity, according to the System Operator, is 12,910 MW, less than 8,000 MW is available and less than 4,000 MW reaches the final consumers on average, about one-third of what Singapore delivers to 5.6 million people. This operational imbalance is a result of infrastructural bottlenecks between the transmission and distribution services within the mostly privatised industry.

“Removing severe bottlenecks within the transmission and distribution grid is necessary to allow free flow of electricity,” noted Siemens in its proposal obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.

“This includes rehabilitating defective connections of key substations to the existing control center in order to improve the operation of transmission network and to unlock its potential.”

Although fixing electricity has remained a seemingly intractable challenge, a sort of a hex, in Nigeria, the awareness of darkness as a barrier to development is not lost on both the government and the society, including “hustling” young people involved in personal businesses such as fashion designing or digital marketing and those in bigger businesses like high-margin manufacturing.

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