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Almost 24-hour Power Supply? Not In Nigeria!

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CLAIM: On Wednesday, March 27, 2019, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, said some states, including Kebbi and Yobe States, now have almost 24 hours’ power supply.

CONCLUSION: FALSE

FULL TEXT: 

On Wednesday, March 27, 2019, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, while speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily Programme, said that some states, including Kebbi and Yobe, now have almost 24 hours’ power supply. He also spoke on the improvement of electricity nationwide.

Sitting down here, I can tell you some states that have almost 24 hours – Kebbi, Yobe. Some have five, some have 10 and there are still outages,” he said. “The generation capacity is also increasing”.

To verify Mr. Fashola’s claim, Dubawa contacted him on the phone to actually get the data he used to measure or carry out his survey, unfortunately, we are yet to get his response. [This fact- check will be updated upon the receipt of Mr Fashola’s response, that is if there exists any evidence for his claims]

We, however, carried out our independent checks. While it is difficult to find data documenting how many hours of electricity Nigerians enjoy across the states of the country, find below the reasons why Mr. Fashola’s claim is suspicious and very likely to be FALSE.

THE GENESIS

Following public outcry about the epileptic power supply in the country, with the attendant paralyzing effects on employment generation, capacity utilization in the manufacturing sector, to mention a few, the Federal Government privatized the National Electric Power Authority, better known by its acronym, NEPA.

It then changed its name to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN.

In 2013, PHCN’s assets were broken into – 6 generation companies (GENCOs); 1 transmission company; and 11 distribution companies called DISCOs.

Now what this means is that the light you see in the bulb in your home or office is the result of electricity passing through the three stages: power generation, transmission and distribution. Power generation relates to the process of obtaining electricity from primary sources. In the case of Nigeria, that would be through fossil fuels especially gas (86%) and hydropower (14%). For the list of GENCOs, see this article.

Power transmission is the process by which the generated electricity is moved from generating stations and the responsible organization, the Transmission Company of Nigeria is fully owned by the Federal Government.

The final stage, power distribution refers to the ‘distribution’ of electricity to residential and commercial areas.

Between any of the 3 stages, power can be lost. For instance, at an average of approximately 7.4%, power is lost from generation to transmission which is high compared to emerging countries’ benchmarks of 2-6%. This explains why the Minister may say that more electricity has been generated but the power supply in your home may not have improved.

For more information, see this article.



According to the International Energy Agency, Electricity production increased since 2000 but the supply per Nigerian barely changed since 2005. One of the explanations was that the population had grown in that time by approximately 57 million, which is the current population of South Africa.

With the privatization, the general belief was that the country would begin experiencing uninterrupted power supply. It was a misplaced belief!

Power outages remain constant and outrageous billing remains the order of the day.

The operational reports of the Transmission Company of Nigeria showed that the country’s generation capacity increased from 5,500MW to 6,500MW in October 2018; it increased to 7,500MW in January 2019 and at the time of this research, the present transmission strength is 8,100MW.

While it is clear that power supply has improved, Mr Fashola’s generalization that some states now have 24 hours’ power supply cannot be substantiated.

Our research shows that Kebbi state enjoys more than 22 hours’ electricity, courtesy of the Governor who has supported PHCN with new transformers and monthly financial support of over 100 million to stabilize and ensure constant electricity supply to the state.

He bought over 200 transformers and other electricity facilities that would make it possible for the distribution company to supply electricity regularly to Birnin Kebbi and the 21 local government areas of the state. The current electricity supply is as a result of the government’s strategic move of tapping from the power supplied to Niger Republic. A fact-check done by TheCable also confirms this.  

Also, power supply has improved in Yobe state, compared to what it used to be in 2018. In October last year, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said it energized a new 330/132KV substation in Damaturu.

The record also shows that TCN established four new substations in the Northeast Region, particularly in Damaturu, Maiduguri, Adamawa and Bauchi which has increased bulk power transmission through the Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC), the DISCO for the Northeast.

A series of publications on social media post of YEDC show an average of 170MW daily from the national grid and it is distributing a larger percentage of this due to the new substations and the transformers it installed.

The residents of Damaturu said in January they are happy over the steady power supply in Yobe, the capital.

After Mr Fashola’s disclosure, some residents in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states took to their Twitter handles to confirm that electricity supply in the states’ capital had improved to an average of 16 hours daily.

Lukman Dahiru, who resides in Yola attested to the claim saying “@YedcPlc supplies almost 24/7 in Yola.” Sulaiman Sanni in Damaturu said while some parts of the town enjoy 18 hours’ power supply on the average, the same cannot be said for all parts of the state.

According to the latest DISCO load of March 2019, Yola DISCO led in distributing about 101 per cent of the 159.98MW.

Meanwhile, ten other DISCOs distributed between 12 per cent and 50 per cent. Abuja and Ibadan DISCOs were cases in point. These are below the energy they should distribute as stipulated by the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO), a tariff model for incentive-based regulation that seeks to reward performance above certain benchmarks; reduces technical and non-technical/commercial losses and leads to cost recovery and improved performance standards from all industry operators in the Nigerian Electricity chain.

MYTO requires Abuja DISCO to distribute 525MW but it’s distributing 460MW. In Lagos, Eko DISCO is expected to distribute 396MW but it’s distributing less than 208MW, while Ikeja DISCO is expected to distribute 550MW but it is short of its expected supply by 135MW. Of course, what this means is that there is no 24-hour power supply in these places!

CONCLUSION

Mr Fashola’s claim that some states now have 24 hours’ power supply cannot be substantiated because many DISCOs are not getting enough of what the MYTO 2015 allocated to them from the grid. Besides, even if power generation or transmission improves, if that does not translate to power supply in homes and offices, then the Minister cannot say that electricity is better in Nigeria!

Adejumo Kabir is a student journalist at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He is a great researcher with many investigative journalism awards to his name. He loves community journalism and supports all aspects of public enlightenment. He has experience writing well-researched papers for online publications. He was Finalist for Best Student Fact Checker category of the African Fact Checking Awards, South Africa in 2018.

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