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Of DisCos and GenCos performance

By Matthew Agboma Ozah
03 November 2021   |   3:38 am
There has not been a good performance indicator on the DisCos and GenCos operations across the country. Since they scrambled for the partition of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the difficulties in accomplishing their task suggest that they may be facing some hurdles.

DisCos

There has not been a good performance indicator on the DisCos and GenCos operations across the country. Since they scrambled for the partition of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the difficulties in accomplishing their task suggest that they may be facing some hurdles. The low performance that has characterised their sojourn is shocking compared to assurances given to Nigerians. Somehow, the DisCos and GenCos were blinded with profits from the venture than taking the business seriously. Of course, their shoddy preparations simply reward their customers with darkness. At the moment, Nigerians are condemned to pay electricity bills for darkness.

Ever since DisCos and GenCos came on board, their performance has been absolutely slight. All over the country, Nigerians have continued to live agonizingly in perpetual darkness just like in the days of PHCN. Therefore, it came as cheery news the other day, the acting Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu indicated the need to review the GenCos and DisCos licences over poor performance. According to him, a careful and detailed look at the issues of policy, capacity and the technical requirements among others must be considered, especially the performance monitoring process to find out if the terms for granting the licences were onerous.   Understandably, the Buhari administration is on the right path in reviewing the DisCos and GenCos licencese. This is because governments past and present have spent huge amount of money to provide electricity. In the last count, over 1.7 trillion Naira have been spent with plans to spend additional three billion dollars on the power sector. As it were, the burden on Nigerians becomes a double-edged sword as tax payers money go down the drain while the masses suffer inexplicable darkness.

On several occasions, the masses’ questions about misappropriation of public funds are always explained away with flimsy reasons. No genuine response from the corridors of power and ignorantly the people move on hoping for a better future. There have been reports of an allegation mismanagement of billions of naira on electricity projects. Such misappropriation of public funds leads to anxious speculations among citizens. However, the hint that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) desires to probe an alleged $16 billion failed power projects under Obasanjo’s administration is a storm in a tea cup. Of course, that won’t produce electricity.

The masses suffer continued exploitation by the GenCos and DisCos over the monthly ‘crazy electricity bills payments. This is sad. Sometime ago, women from Unguwan Doma community in Kaduna state protested against the continued hardship the community has been going through in the hands of KedCo. According to the leader, Mrs. Jemimah James “They (KedCo) bring electricity between noon and 4:00 pm, a time they know the majority of us are not at home. They will not bring it back till around 11:00 pm or midnight when we are already sleeping. What type of action is this?…we are still paying for the electricity we did not consume. We can’t take this again, enough is enough”.

No doubt, the primary purpose of electricity is a window of development in any country. Regrettably, such an opportunity continues to slip from Nigeria due to poor leadership at all levels. Indeed, Nigeria’s troubles with electricity supply reflect in the sorry state of development across the country. The lack of reliable power supply affects the growth of industries in the county. Investors’ tales of woes are equally very pathetic as a majority of them complain that their businesses are failing as they rely mainly on petrol or diesel to run their generators. Those who can no longer cope fold up their businesses or move out of the country to neighbouring countries, a quick example is Ghana where electricity supply has been stable for over two decades. Speaking at the 49th annual general meeting of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) recently in Abuja, the President of Africa Development Bank (AfDB) Akinwunmi Adesina, said “…the country has lost 29 billion dollars yearly which is about 5.8 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) due to lack of reliable power supply … Nigeria spends 14 billion dollars yearly on generating sets and fuel”.

It is indeed paradoxical that a popular prejudice says that government-owned institutions are not well administered. Therefore, the government must privatise and put such public institutions in the hands of the private sector. But, with the unfolding poor performance in the case of the GenCos and DisCos, such action becomes complicated as it has revealed in the last few years how electricity supply has nose-dived drastically under the management of the private sectors.

About two years ago, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo while inaugurating the 2x60MVA, 132/33KV substation and associated 132KV transmission lines constructed by Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) in Abeokuta said: “The distribution capacity of the 11 DISCOs are significantly low, hovering at around 4,000 megawatts with a peak of about 5,400MW…it is evident that despite all the efforts that have been put into trying to expand the grid, the structure of the market today cannot deliver on the government’s promises to provide power for domestic and industrial use. A substantial change of strategy is necessary…”

Of course, the DisCos are known to have an ugly habit of operational strategy. They have their ears on the ground and once a very important personality visits a particular neighbourhood, they unleash a 24-hour electricity supply in the entire area until the personality leaves. That was the case the Daura community comprising five Local government areas brought before President Muhammadu Buhari some years ago. While hosting the community leaders during the Eid El-Kabir celebrations of that year, one of the leaders, Mohammed Saleh informed President Buhari that “anytime he is around, we enjoy 24 hours power supply. But, if he is not around, the power supply is not always stable”.

The poor performance of the DisCos and GenCos has further complicated the challenges facing Nigerians. It is even more complex and hard to understand where to begin. Anyway, one could just imagine that the review of licences would do the magic and improve power supply in the coming years. This is because, electricity is in many ways a nation’s key roadmap to development. However, the government must ensure that the electricity issue is taken seriously by putting pressure on the DisCos and GenCos. Government must avoid lip-service or mere threat of licences review. The concern of Nigerians is to have adequate electricity supply without excuses.

It is relevant to note that the other component, the Transmission Company is solely in the hands of the federal government. Doubtless, the DisCos and GenCos are pointing at its inefficiency to explain theirs. People do not need the lamentation of GenCos, DisCos and TCN, they need electricity.

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