Nigeria: NDPHC And The Future Of Electricity In Nigeria

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Nigeria’s journey to sufficient and interrupted electricity supply for her citizens which started as far back as 1929 when the Nigeria Electricity Supply Company (NESCO) became established as electric utility company has been inundated with a myriad of daunting challenges which has made it impossible to achieve that dream of ‘light for all’.

As at March, 2000 many parts of Nigeria were without power supply for up to 72 hours. Social and economic activities took a strong hit with antendant security problems. Nigerians were embarrassed and there was of necessity the need to reform the nation’s power sector. Consequently, the government sacked the National Electric Power Authority, {NEPA} board and appointed a Technical Board to oversee its day to day activities. Nigeria had never in its history attempted a holistic seriousness towards tackling the nation’s energy deficiency even as the quality of power kept dropping.

Erratic power supply and outages were a constant. All these with the ugly incident of March 2000 which exposed the underbelly of the giant of a continent, led to the Power Sector Reform Bill being signed. The law opened the door for private companies to participate in electricity generation, transmission, and distribution in Nigeria.

The Niger Delta Power Holding Company Limited (NDPHC) was then formed in 2005 as the legal vehicle for implementing the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) using private sector-orientated best business practices. The NDPHC is funded from the Excess Crude Account of the Federation of Nigeria. Its shareholding structure is naturally in accordance with Section 162(3) of the 1999 Constitution and Allocation of  Revenue (Federation Account, etc.) Act. Cap A15, LFN 2004.

The NIPP was originally designed around seven medium-sized gas fired power stations in the gas producing states of the Niger Delta. However the number of the power plants were later expanded to ten with the addition of three others. This huge power project was to also  ensure that critical transmission infrastructure needed to evacuate the added power into the national grid were built.

To enable provision of adequate gas to fire the power plants, gas infrastructural projects were equally embarked upon and included within the framework of the NIPP.  By the time the NDPHC came on the Nigerian power stage, the decay in the quality of power in Nigeria had reached an all-time embarrassing level.

The NDPHC therefore set out to work and has been tackling headlong the monumental decay in the Nigerian power sector. Before the birth of NIPP/NDPHC in 2005, Nigeria could barely generate 2,000mw of electricity. The country neither had any gas-fired power station nor even the gas infrastructure to generate electricity. NDPHC has confronted the many challenges it met in the Nigerian power sector especially of inadequate power generation capacity in Nigeria. It has already grown Nigeria’s generating capacity by about 60% within the 13 years of its existence, contributing over 35% of the current installed capacity. It has expanded the nation’s transmission capacity at the 330k level by over 90% of its installed capacity within the same period, also tackling inefficient usage of capacity.

In Nigeria, Generator transformers are used to step up the generated voltage to higher voltage levels (330kv or 132kv) to be transmitted over long distances using transmission lines. The transmitted high voltages (330kv and 132kv) are stepped down to lower voltage levels (132kv, 66kv, 33kv, 11kv and 415/240v) at various transmission stations and sub-stations. NDPHC has been involved in every of these segments giving utmost importance to ensuring the most continuous production, transmission and distribution of adequate power.

The transmission segment is a complex network consisting of feeders, circuit breakers, high voltage transmission lines, transformer substations and supervisory control and data acquisition {SCADA} system. NDPHC has added a lot of these to the Nigerian power sector. This unprecedented intervention had never been done in the history of the nation, not even in any African nation. There is huge importance of regular power supply in Nigeria’s economic growth and social progress. The company is still building more transmission lines especially double circuit in order to increase efficiency and reliability. Many substations have been constructed and equipped with sizable transformers.

Tapping from full governmental support of the current administration, the full implementation of the National Independent Power Project (NIPP) is on stream. Several Gas Pipeline and Metering Stations have been built. There have been 296 initially appropriated distribution projects including 33/11kV Distribution Injection Substations; 1,712 km of 33kv Lines; 4,540 km of 11kv Lines; 24,996 completely self-protected transformers; 3,970mva  injection substation capacity added; 1,212mva CSP Transformation Capacity added. There is the political will more than before in policy consistency to do the right things and to step on powerful toes where necessary. NDPHC has continued to provide critical distribution infrastructure to help the privately-owned Distribution Companies [Discos], meet their end of the bargain to deliver and meet the expectations of Nigerians.

The effect of NDPHC on the Nigerian power sector has been in building the lasting foundation for reliable and stable power supply, a departure from the ad hoc arrangement of the past. The dream of Nigerians for efficient, reliable, stable and dependable power supply will soon be realised mainly through the instrumentality of NDPHC. Although certain challenges have militated against NDPHC’s mission of delivering regular power supply in the country, including at one time total stoppage of its activities; legislative disruption; the nefarious acts of pipeline and cable vandals; initial lack of effective gas transmission infrastructure and inadequate gas supply to thermal power plants, the company has battled on working behind the scenes to tackle its challenges and to avoid the total system collapse as it occurred in March 2000.

Apart from building brand new power plants, it has replaced obsolete power equipment and ensured regular maintenance of existing power plants and other electricity installations. Soon the time will come when Nigerians will start reaping the fruits of constant energy supply in a post-privatisation power sector era. That would be when evils of economic sabotage, vandalism, insufficient transmission and distribution facilities, inappropriate industry and market structure would be past memories. With core investors unhampered by paucity of fund coming into full stream, and things going beyond distribution companies (DISCOs) inappropriate billing system, homes and businesses in Nigeria will need no more to be generating their own electricity. At that time, the role played by NDPHC in resuscitating the power sector in Nigeria and ushering in sustainable national development will never be forgotten. – Yakubu is a public affairs analyst

Authored By: Lawal Yakubu   (Yakubu is a public affairs analyst)

SOURCE: LEADERSHIP

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