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Niger owes Nigeria N4bn for power–NERC

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By Abraham Adekunle

NIGELEC reports 70% of electricity share in 2022 purchased from Nigeria.

As the tension over the potential invasion of Niger Republic by ECOWAS forces, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has revealed that Niger owes Nigeria a sum of N4.22 billion ($5.48 million) for energy supplied. This was in its issued first quarter report. It is not clear whether the Federal Government of Niger will use this as the justification for the termination of power supply to the country since the country was taken over by a military junta.

Also, according to a NIGELEC report, 70 percent of Niger’s share of electricity in 2022 was purchased from the Nigerian business mainstream. NIGELEC (Société Nigérienne d’Electricité, Nigerien Electricity Society) is the parastatal electric power generation and transmission utility in Niger. However, experts have argued that cutting off Niger’s electricity violates the transaction service agreement which prevents Niger from damming the Niger River upstream. Kainji Dam in Niger State produces the power that is delivered to Niger.

Republic of Niger is working on building its own dam.

Upstream of the River Niger, the Kandadji Dam is a large multipurpose dam under construction. It is situated near the small town of Kandadji, Tillabéri Department, Tillabéri Region, Niger. It is 180 km northwest of the capital city, Niamey. The High Commission for Niger Valley, a public body under the Prime Minister’s Office, is building it. The country is working towards finishing this first dam by 2025 in order to break its energy dependence on Nigeria.

Some have opined that Niger now has the justification to accelerate the building of the dam on its portion of the Niger. This will seriously affect Nigeria’s part of the river on which a hydroelectric dam is built. The Kandadji Dam would regulate flows. According to press reports from Nigeria, the project would reduce the river flow to Nigeria by at least 10 percent. It will as a result, jeopardize power production from two existing dams in Nigeria. This means a colossal loss to the agricultural capacity of Nigerian states that border the River Niger. Also, Nigeria could lose up to 760 megawatts.

NERC ordered operator to stop payment indiscipline by market players.

However, Niger’s state-owned power company, Nigerien Electricity Society, has reportedly not paid the $5.48 million invoice for supply, which was issued by the Nigerian market operator. According to the report, “None of the underlisted international customers made any payment against the cumulative $16.11m invoice issued to them in 2023/Q1; Paras-SBEE ($3.46m), Transcorp-SBEE ($3.85 million), Mainstream-NIGELEC ($5.48m) and Odukpani-CEET ($3.32 million).” Of the N842.38 million invoice that the operator issued to all the eight bilateral customers in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), only North-South/Star Pipe made a remittance of N15.38 million against its invoice of N24.69 million.

Consequently, the NERC ordered the Market Operator to use the clause in the market regulations to stop the various market players’ payment indiscipline. Industry sources had reported that Nigeria disconnected the high voltage line that carries electricity to Niger since August 1, 2023. Residents of Niamey, Maradi, and Zinder were supplied for about an hour before it was shut off for up to five hours. In Niger, where supplies are often consistent and reliable, outages like these are uncommon.

Disconnection is part of ECOWAS negotiations with the junta.

Kunle Olubiyo, the coordinator of Power Sector Perspectives and president of the Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, confirmed that ECOWAS would cut off the Niger Republic’s access to the energy grid. He said that about 60 percent of the energy supply to Niger comes from Nigeria. “Just like organized labor usually shuts down the national grid as part of negotiations when all appeals might have failed to achieve results, Mr. President Tinubu is the leader of ECOWAS at the moment,” he said, adding that disconnection from the grid is seen as a low-hanging fruit. Major cities in Niger are reportedly experiencing rolling blackouts as a result of the recent coup in the country.

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