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Power grid collapse leads to a near national blackout – why it (really) matters

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Power grid collapse leads to a near national blackout – why it (really) matters

Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja is facing an electricity blackout.

Back story: The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) took to Twitter to apologize and offered explanations for the citywide blackout that has lasted almost 24 hours since Wednesday.

  • The company stated that it is presently receiving only 20 megawatts of electricity from the transmission companies. It used to receive an average of 450 megawatts prior to this incident, which it supplied to its customers across FCT, Nasarawa, Niger, and Kogi states.
  • The FCT is not alone in the darkness. A reported power grid collapse is responsible for the blackouts which also affected other northern states including Sokoto, Kaduna, Kano, and Katsina.
  • The Transmission Company of Nigeria is yet to make public the cause of the incident but an official of the TCN told a news agency that they are working to restore the grid.

Why it (really) matters: Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola boasted in a recent interview, that generation capacity in the country is on the rise. However, this does not reflect in terms of power availability to Nigerian consumers and the situation appears to be more dire than presented. Below is a snapshot of the issue by the numbers:

Fundamental lapses within the power sector remain unaddressed. Nigeria’s transmission network is weak and inadequate while issues still persist with distribution (lack of metering, weak infrastructure and electricity theft). The distribution companies (DISCOs) are constrained as a result of lack of access to cash and are unable to invest in the required infrastructure that will improve service delivery to consumers. One of the key issues is that tariffs are not cost reflective. Government interventions and political interference are rife in the sector, in spite of the much touted deregulation efforts. This makes it hard to raise the required investments required to fix the sector. As it stands, Nigeria requires an injection of $5billion within the next five years, to support its transmission infrastructure to prevent more of these occurrences.

Bottomline: Nigeria’s policy makers need to sit up and fix this system in order to avert a total and prolonged national blackout.

Go deeper: Nigeria Power Baseline Report (Pdf, 2018)

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