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The Challenges In Power Sector Distribution By Adetayo Adegbemle

It is no more news that Nigeria is in dire straits when it comes to power supplies, with poor regulatory environment, a fairly better Generation Companies, a Transmission that it is in straight jackets, and a Distribution subsector that has consumed all excuses available in the trick books to keep up with their overall poor service delivery.

This year alone, there has been x National Grid Collapses, with poor gas supply to Generators and inability of Power Distribution Companies to evacuate power from the grid, resulting in unstably high and/or low frequencies.

There is also no shortage of commentaries, from all every quarter in Nigeria. In fact, every Nigerian is now an advocate of sort when the discussions get to the power sector.

One of the recent of such wave making narrative is a comment attributed to the Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, where he was wrongly quoted to have said Nigerians should expect round the clock power supplies from July 1st, 2022.

What the Chairman, in fact, said was that contracts/arrangements was being put in place to a phased generation, evacuation and Distribution of 5, 000MW. Contract Based. If you don’t meet up, you get sanctioned.

Where this gets interesting, however, is that from all vesting interests in this value chain, the only established weak point remains the Power Distribution Companies. Ask me how?

The entry point in this chain, the Gas Producers, with their capacity, does not have any issue with supplying Gas for Nigeria to generate power.

Generators, with continued ramped up capacity, are presently at an installed Capacity of close to 20, 000MW. With different hydropower plants and thermal plants at different stages of onboarding to the National Grid, there has been visible investment in Power Generation.

In a presentation made on behalf of the General Manager, Transmission Company of Nigeria, at the First Abuja Power Sector Conference and Exhibition, last year, it was stated that so many projects under the Transmission subsector are different stages of completion and commissioning as well. (State/Quote a few)

However, the same cannot be said of the Electricity Distribution Subsector.

Keen observers and followers of the power sector are likely to be wondering if lack of capacity is our problem. This is far from the truth.

Many engineering organizations in Nigeria has exhibited their readiness, and introduced cutting edge technologies, to help in our search for Eldorado.

One of such organizations, Momas Eletric Meter Manufacturing Company, MEMMCOL, sometimes in 2019,, debuted and piloted what is known as Substation Power Enhancement Panel(SPEP).

SPEP, ass it is called in short, is “designed to meet the standardization, miniaturization, and outdoor requirements of small capacity low voltage distribution equipment.”

According to the Company, the SPEP integrates distribution, metering, protection, gprs- remote controlled switching on/off, and capacitor reactive compensation, complete and full functions(sort circuit, overload, phase loss, over-voltage, under-voltage, residual current, overcurrent, neutral line disconnection of power supply, lightning protection, etc)

Other features of this SPEP includes Wireless Dual Tariff Metering, ability to take power feed from both Grid and Offgrid Power supplies.

The organization, has gone ahead to pilot Substation Power Enhancement Panel, SPEP, in 4 of the electricity distribution companies for FREE. The four Distribution Companies are Kaduna Electric, Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, Eko Electricity Distribution PLC, and Abuja Electricity Distribution Company.

Out of these four, only Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company has gone ahead to do some level of acceptance and awarded substation enhancement within the Ibadan Metropolis.

This brings us to the main question. Is our continued inability in Nigeria to solve the power sector challenges a capacity challenge, or just our sheer wickedness to ourselves?

How many more of these innovative local solutions have we discountenanced for imported technologies?

This also brings me to a presentation I made to the Ogun State chapter of the Nigerian Society of Engineers on the Entrepreneurship opportunities that our present predicament in the power sector offers, using the Metering of Consumers as example.

The Government was advised to the National Mass Metering Program to try encourage local manufacturing capacity, by patronizing ecosystems that are willing to innovate based on local engineering capacity.

Industrialized nations have been observed to encourage local manufacturing capacities to their advantage. German Industries are kept alive with their governments actively patronizing their local companies, and promoting them internationally.

The ongoing case of the Siemens deal is an example. The German Government offered to loan Nigeria money for the power sector, if we are willing to patronize German company, Siemens.

Nothing is wrong if the Nigerian Government can encourage Nigerian Companies like Momas, especially with their displayed capacity in Engineering. This will also encourage similar companies to be able to innovate to solve the myriads of problems that faces us in Nigeria.

This is also an appeal to the Chairman of Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, Engr. Sanusi Garba, to include local Engineering Companies like Momas in the Distribution Network Enhancement. The innovative Substation Power Enhancement Panel can only get better from here.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, with its many interventions in the power sector, are also called to give organizations like Momas opportunity to grow. It will only further help our Nations Economy, lessening the demands for Foreign Exchange. We can even export to other African countries, and the world indeed.

I only imagine the kind of growth our engineering subsector if the funds given to Siemens is channeled into our local Manufacturing Capacity.

 

Adetayo Adegbemle is a public opinion commentator/analyst, researcher, and the convener of PowerUpNigeria, an Electric Power Consumer Right Advocacy Group, based in Lagos. (Twitter: @gbemle, @PowerUpNg)

 

 

 

Gatekeepers News is not liable for opinions expressed in this article, they’re strictly the writer’s.

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