At the installation of two 100MVA transformers at Apo and Katampe on February 12, Babatunde Fashola, minister of Power, Works and Housing disclosed that total wheeling capacity of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) is now above 7,000MW.
This is good news for a country that for a long time struggled with raising transmission capacity above the 5,000MW. Even though the 7,000MW transmission capacity is just a fraction of the country’s total energy needs, it represents a small step in the right direction. What is important now is that the government continue to focus on improving the capacity of the transmission lines so that it can eventually accommodate the country’s existing 12,000MW generation capacity.
As the transmission capacity improves, it is also important that the country start dealing with other critical issues that has continued to act as a constraint to the performance of the power sector. The Distribution Companies continue to struggle. One of the biggest challenges facing the Discos remain the issue of an appropriate market based tariff that will make their investments worthwhile. The country cannot continue to ignore the issue of tariffs and expect to resolve the challenges in the power sector. Projects in the downstream end of the power sector must be made bankable through a proper tariff structure.
However, it is also important that the Discos sit up and deliver service. Sadly, in most cases, it is difficult to make a case for the Discos because many of them have been very poor in service delivery. The expected private sector mind-set that they were to bring to bear in the power sector has been largely lacking.
Instead, they have become inefficient and exploitative, failing to deliver prepaid metres to homes and relying heavily on ‘estimated billing’ which in many cases are highly exploitative. As the transmission capacity expands, Discos must raise their efficiency levels to ensure that they deliver the improved power to people’s homes.