Note from author.
Many Nigerians still say “Up NEPA,” when the power comes back online after an outage. Some have used term PHCN in describing “how NEPA is taking the light,” others know that a company called EKO DISCO or Ikeja Electric is responsible for “taking or bringing the light.”
Though many Nigerians are aware of the abusive relationship between them and the local electric power sector, the know very little about it and its inner workings.
In this series — Up NEPA — I attempt to explain the Nigerian power sector as it currently is. I have generally avoided complex engineering and power system economic terms and concepts, and where I use them I give adequate definitions, explanations and citations.
Why is it important to know about the Nigeria power sector? Not many of us care about knowing the intricacies of developing a medicine or making clothes. That would be the responsibility and problem of the pharmacologist and the seamstress. But in Nigeria, the effect or the lack thereof of “NEPA” is yea and amen in our everyday lives. The political and economic ramifications of the Nigerian power sector are complex. The media does a good job in victimizing the electric distribution companies (DISCOs), making the less informed believe that they are actually the cause of our electric woes. Hence knowing one or two things about this sector, that is so inefficient but yet so important, can be very useful.
We cannot deny the importance of electricity in bringing about economic development. And by a rough estimate, for Nigeria to provide reliable electricity for its 190 million citizens, lifting over 90 million out of poverty in the process, it would have to generate enough electricity to meet a peak of 562,982 MW. Currently the country’s highest peak generated is 5,222.3 MW. Let’s not kid ourselves we have a long way to go. I have discussed this issue here.
Also, the widespread support of the proposal to amend the 2005 Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSR) by the legislature to criminalize the estimated billings by the DISCOs also prompted this. While estimating a bill might not be the right thing to do, in an attempt to recoup investments, the vitriol poured on the DISCOs, by the Nigerian public, shows a fundamental lack in understanding of the power sector. This series attempts to bridge that gap.
If you read this series and learn something new about the Nigerian electric power sector, then it has achieved some sort of success and for that I am glad.