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Nigeria’s Power & Steel Minister Speaks on Improving Power Supply  (Posted 2nd Apr, 2001) Tell your friends about this page! Email it to them.

"Not only fasting and prayer but solving some technical problems and hard work can we improve power supply" said Power and Steel Minister, Dr. Segun Agagu, as he briefed the press on his ministry's activities Friday, March 23, in Abuja. The Minister restated the Obasanjo administration’s goal of meeting the country's power demand by the end of this year. Another highlight of the Minister's briefing was the ENRON power project in Lagos.  He described it as "illegal" in the way and manner the project is being carried out. He advised the American power company to mend its ways if it is to achieve the goal of the project. Agagu revealed a three-prong strategy by government to achieve the goal of meeting the country's power demand. These, he said, are the setting up of emergency power plants, the rehabilitation of ailing thermal plants, and the rehabilitation of the power distribution network.

On the steel sector, the minister said that the Obasanjo administration was now committed to completing the moribund $4 billion Ajaokuta steel complex and has signed the completion agreement with $400 million for this purpose with a Russian firm.

Power Generation Increasing, also Committed to Rural Electrification

Expectedly, power supply was the main topic of Agagu's briefing. He said the National Electric Power Authority, NEPA, was presently generating 2,500 megawatts of power. In January, the utility generated 2,650mw the highest so far in its more than four decades of existence.  

But supply again dropped to 2,100 mw in February "due to low level of water at the hydro plants and the non-completion of rehabilitation at some of the thermal power plants," Agagu said. He also stated that the Obasanjo administration was committed to accelerating the rural electricity programme of the federal government. Said he: "president Obasanjo is interested in electrifying all communities in the country," adding that "demand requests from these communities is growing on a daily basis." To get a better view and appraisal of how to meet the growing demand, Agagu said that at least two consultants have been appointed for the country's six geo-political zones to assist government in this direction. So far, he said, 575 local government areas have been connected to the national grid. He added further that 200 rural electrification projects have been completed since the inception of the Obasanjo administration, May 29, 1999, and that by this May, the administration's second anniversary, the number of completed projects would rise to 300. 17 billion Naira, (170 million US Dollars) was budgeted for this purpose this year. Agagu said that the remaining 199 Local Government would also be given electricity over the next two years at a cost of 20 billion Naira (200 million US Dollars). 

The Minister gave a breakdown of the expected additions in power supply from the country's several power stations in coming months. These are: Shiroro hydro electric plant; 150 megawatts; Afam 15mw due in (April), 70mw (May) the Delta vi thermal power station: 500mw made up 100mw in March, June, August, October and December; Kainji hydro power plant: 80mws in August, October and December; Sapele thermal power station 440mws: 220mw in November and 220mw in December; the 220mw Ijora thermal plant (Nigeria's oldest power station opened in 1923. The second phase was commissioned by the Queen of England in 1956) will add 15mw in August and 15mw in November. All of these amount to 1,485mw in new energy deliveries, Agagu said. 

That is not all. The expansion of the Afam and Delta thermal stations are expected to add new capacity of 276mws for Afam, and 276mws for the Delta plant before the end of the year. Another section of the multi plant Delta power complex may also get six additional units of 25mws each. Thus bringing the expected new capacity generation to 426mws. 

Also on the card, according to the power and steel minister is what he calls a "captive" power plant for the federal capital Abuja. The planned thermal plant should generate 30mws by May. Agagu puts Abuja's power demand at 180mws. He also said that a new 233KAV line would be run from the Shiroro hydro power station to the federal capital to strengthen power supply there.

In all, new power generation capacity is projected at 2,210mws by December, Agagu said. Added to current supply, averaging 2,500mws would increase power generation to 4,710mws, well above the 4,000mw promised by NEPA by December.  

Steady, Uninterrupted Power Supply Soon?

The crucial question is whether this would translate into steady, uninterrupted power supply round the country, banishing the ghost of frequent power outages forever. This, however, appears unlikely. Only two months ago Senator Liyel Imoke, chairman of NEPA's technical management board, and adviser to the President on public utililities said that what NEPA promised Nigerians was not uninterrupted power supply but increased output of 4,000mws. But the general assumption had been that since the highest recorded demand for power in the country was 2,400mws (1982) improving actual supply from current average 2,500mw to 4,00mws would ensure steady, uninterrupted power supply. But it appears several technical obstacles need to be solved before a boost in power supply. First, the distribution network would need to be revamped. For increased generation efforts to impact on actual power supply, more and newer distribution transformers would need to be installed to replace existing decrepit ones. Theft of NEPA equipment, better known as "vandalisation" is also a bothersome issue, for which the authorities have yet to find a lasting solution. If this negative practice continues at current levels, whatever improvement in power generation is realised, is unlikely to have the desired positive impact, especially in rural areas where 'vandalisation' is at its peak. 

The Lagos Emergency Power Project Ready This Month 

The ENRON "emergency" power project also remains controversial. Agagu said that he hoped that ENRON would rectify contractual problems in order to put the project on the right track. Agagu, however, said the ENRON power project was expected to generate 90mws in April, and additional 90mw in June, and 90mw in August, making a total of 270mw. Lagos state government which invited ENRON to Nigeria reacted to Agagu's press briefing, Monday, March 26.

A press conference was addressed by Dele Alake and Rauf Aregbesola, Lagos state Information and Works and Housing Commissioners respectively. Alake described Agagu's statement as a " sad story" The project has gone beyond that. The initial problem, which was what Agagu was referring to, had been overcome. Alake said. Meanwhile, Dennis Skipper, ENRON's General Manager in Lagos has said that the expected completion of the first phase of the company's power project would be delayed for 10 days. From end of this month till April 10th. This, according to Skipper was due to problems associated with gas supplies from the nearby Nigerian Gas Company, NGC.

NGC has given notice that it would not supply gas to the Egbin thermal power station between April 7 - 8th. Alake said it would be reasonable to delay commissioning of the ENRON plant for a few more days in order to be assured of adequate gas supplies for the ENRON plants.

Editor's Note:  is now know as Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, from 2005

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See also: Power Supply And The National Electric Power Authority (NEPA)

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