THE year 2023 marked the tenth-year anniversary of the partial privatization of the power sector in which the Federal Government handed over to the private sector its 60 per cent stakes in 11 electricity distribution companies, sold or concessioned seven power generation plants and retained full ownership of the transmission company.
While electricity supply has remained epileptic and consumer experience largely frustrating, the government which sought to divest from the sector has ended up spending over N7 trillion trying to shore up the fortune of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, NESI.
Besides being largely in private hands, the power sector landscape was significantly altered in 2023 with the signing into law of the Electoral Act. The Act came after the power sector was moved out of the exclusive legislative list of the 1999 Constitution into the concurrent list.
The Act opened up the sector in that it allows state governments to not only have the capacity to issue licenses but to also generate, transmit and distribute electricity within the states.
The year also saw the appointment of Adebayo Adelabu as the new Minister of Power. Without the appointment of a Minister of State, Adelabu became the first man to administer the sector single-handedly since the advent of the present democracy in 1999.
Generation: Huge capacity remains unutilized
Power generation during the year remained abysmally low despite the 13,000MW installed capacity presented by the country’s 27 power generating plants. Poor utilization has however taken its toll on the plants as most have gone into a state of disrepair.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, in its third quarter report released in December, stated: “In 2023/Q3, the overall plant availability factor of all grid-connected plants was 33.31 per cent; this means more than 2/3rd of the installed capacity in the NESI was not available. Only seven plants had an availability factor of 50%. Azura IPP plant had the highest availability factor of 90.04% while Alaoji NIPP had the lowest availability factor of 0.20%.
“The overall low PAF (plant availability factor) of the GenCos in the NESI is a major source of concern to the Commission. The largest driver of plant unavailability was mechanical outages – this is a major problem that has plagued the NESI arising from the age of many of the plants (the average plant in the NESI is 21 years old) as well as challenges with the maintenance of the units”.
The grid and attacks on transmission towers