We Can’t Grow Our Economy in Darkness – Peter Obi Slams Incessant Grid Collapse

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Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s Presidential Candidate in the 2023 general election, has strongly criticized the continuous breakdown of the national grid, which has been plunging Nigerians into darkness.

Obi expressed his dissatisfaction with the persistent power crisis in the country, highlighting that the national grid has collapsed a staggering 141 times in 11 years.

He emphasized that Nigeria’s power generation capacity is only 13,000 megawatts, while the demand stands at approximately 200,000 megawatts.

Furthermore, Obi pointed out that out of the 13,000 megawatts, only around 3,500 megawatts are accessible for households and businesses. This dire situation places Nigeria at the bottom in terms of per capita wattage worldwide.

In an article titled “The Collapsing Electricity Sector,” the Labour Party’s candidate expressed his concern about the imminent collapse of the Nigerian electricity supply industry, despite the efforts made over the past two decades to reform the sector.

He stated:

“It is sad today that we suffer periodic and routine system collapses that are attributed to such avoidable situations as fire outbreaks at critical transmission lines across our major cities. It is absolutely distressing and a story of a low level of managerial capability that the entire nation can be plunged into total darkness for a reasonable period because networks go out because of a lack of diligent attention.
“It should worry any Nigerian patriot that the total installed capacity for a country of more than 200 million people with an aspiration to become a global medium economy power is a mere 13,000. Worse still, only about 3,500mws are available for homes and businesses from the grid. Sometimes, it grinds to less than 2,500mws. This is unacceptable.
“We can contrast the available supply of electricity with competitor countries in Africa like Egypt and South Africa with respective populations of approximately 112m and 59.6m people supplying about 60,000mw and 58,000 respectively.
“This difference in energy wattage has massive implications for human development and economic growth. Nigeria today has the world’s lowest per capita wattage in the world, interestingly lower than those of most of our West African neighbours. It is really sad that whereas our energy demand is above 200,000mws, we have only 13,000mw installed capacity and can only deliver less than 4,000mw.
“After speaking with experts in the sector I have realized that the crisis of power supply in Nigeria relates to two major sectors: (1) generation, and (2) transmission and distribution.
“The major challenges of the generation sector are the lack of a regular supply of gas arising from the failure of the government in the last 8 years to provide adequate gas infrastructure facilities, weak commerciality of gas to power and failure to control the restiveness of angry youths leading to vandalism.
“It is shameful that for more than 8 years we cannot resolve the infrastructural bottlenecks that constrain the supply of gas to power plants despite billions from CBN for legacy gas debts.
“On the transmission and distribution side, the last 8 years have witnessed terrible failure to overcome the deterioration of networks and transmission and distribution networks and invest in modern technologies like SCADA leading to poor coverage, lack of effective coordination between TCN and discos leading to load rejection and inability to generate public trust for policy reform on tariff and leading to low private sector investments.
“If we had a good project manager, we would have massively increased generation, transmission and distribution capacity and enhanced policy coherence that would have crowded private sector investment in the degree to sustained rapid growth of the grid.
“The problem is that the government has exercised the required political will to appoint the right kind of leadership that understands the problems of the sector and has the singular dedication and competence to create quick wins in the short term and transformation in the medium to long term.
“I suggest that the Federal Government immediately constitute a technical task force of real professionals without political consideration to present a diagnosis of the crisis of the sector and to get to work to correct such simple slippage like incessant fire outbreaks that lead to perennial system collapse, drastically improve coordination and coherence between TCN and discos so there will be no load rejection, and breath down on all operators to deliver on their technical responsibilities.
“This will rapidly improve power availability in the short term while the government develops clarity to articulate an integrated national electricity policy and a practical implementation roadmap that harmonizes national and sub-national electricity reform efforts to ensure rapid and expansive delivery of reliable, adequate, and affordable electricity.
“We are too endowed to be a nation of generators and to be trapped in darkness. We cannot grow our economy in darkness.”
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