Numerous regions in Nigeria are witnessing a worrisome situation as businesses voice their anxiety due to the consistent lack of reliable power supply. This persistent issue has compelled countless businesses to seek alternative energy sources to meet their energy needs. On the contrary, their despair arose from the exorbitant costs of the alternatives, lack of long-term feasibility, and the imminent peril they posed to their very existence. On February 4, 2024, Nigeria experienced yet another debilitating episode of power outages throughout the entire country.
The national power grid succumbed once again, plunging the nation into darkness. This unfortunate incident marked the initial collapse of the grid in the current year. By mid-morning at approximately 11:51AM, reports emerged indicating the collapse of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) grid. Consequently, the capacity of the system experienced a severe decline, plummeting from a substantial 2,407 megawatts to a mere 31MW by midday. And then, as time progressed, the capacity continued its descent, ultimately reaching a state of complete power outage by 1PM.
Industries are bearing the brunt of the situation.
Nigeria’s economy and development face a continuous and alarming obstruction in the form of the persistent breakdown of the national grid. The incessant power outages not only jeopardize the stability of the country but also result in substantial financial losses, estimated to be in billions of dollars every year. The power outages in Nigeria not only disrupt the daily lives of its citizens, but also impede their ability to work, learn, and manage their businesses effectively.
More so, the fluctuating power supply, as provided by various distribution companies (DisCos), has been accompanied by a diverse range of explanations in recent weeks. Consequently, industries are bearing the brunt of the situation, resorting to the usage of diesel and petrol-powered generators in order to maintain their production levels. Numerous companies have been compelled to make difficult decisions due to this arduous predicament, including laying off employees and significantly reducing production. These businesses are overwhelmingly concerned that if circumstances fail to improve, they may be left with no choice but to completely cease all production activities.
Generation and transmission of electricity remain persistently inadequate.
Expressing his thoughts on the matter, Frank Ike Onyebu, who previously served as the chairperson of the Apapa branch of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), highlighted the deteriorating state of the power supply in their industrial estate. He acknowledged that this decline was expected during the dry season, but he expressed disappointment at the excessive frequency and duration of power outages, which at times lasted for several days. According to his statements, It is widely acknowledged that the concept of having continuous electricity supply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week has become an elusive ambition.
Instead, the current reality is limited to obtaining electrical power for a mere 7 hours within a 24-hour timeframe on fortunate occasions, sometimes even less than that. Despite the government’s assertions of implementing various reforms in the sector, the generation and transmission of electricity remain persistently inadequate. The majority of the transmission and distribution lines that were passed down from the now-defunct NEPA to the DisCos are currently being utilized, albeit, they are outdated. As a result, whenever there is a disruption or a gust of wind, the electricity tends to shut off for extended periods of time, sometimes lasting for hours or even days.
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Additionally, Nigeria has been grappling with a persistent issue of insufficient electricity supply for several decades, resulting in a significant financial burden on businesses. The World Bank estimates that this challenge inflicts an annual loss of approximately $29 billion on the economy. In the most recent Energy Progress Report 2022 from Tracking SDG 7, it was revealed that Nigeria ranks at the bottom globally in terms of electricity accessibility. This is even as around 92 million individuals accounting for nearly half of the country’s population of 200 million, suffer from a lack of access to power.