The majority of Nigerians have reached the unavoidable conclusion that the procedure that nations like India, Singapore, and a host of other contemporary emerging economies successfully used to reset their electric power challenge is proving too difficult to be applied effectively on our shores almost ten years after the privatisation of the power sector. The national grid lost all power on Monday for the eighth time this year, leaving the entire nation in the dark.

In Nigeria, the story of power supply has alternated between motion and stillness. We have experienced commercialization, the “un-bundling” of the power sector, and privatisation. We have also gone through layers and chains of committees. But nothing appears to have altered. There is hardly any area of the country that does not regularly experience power outages, from Kano and Calabar to Sokoto and Port Harcourt. Many people frequently go without electricity for several days or even weeks, which makes life more difficult. Consumers are paying more while receiving less power at a time when the exchange rate makes diesel and generators unaffordable.

Up until recently, the most frequent justification for grid collapse was that the transmission lines could not move the power produced by the generating companies (GENCOS). However, the more recent one was ascribed to the destruction of some transmission infrastructure. However, none of the distribution companies (DISCOS), who benefited from the disastrous power sector reforms, have made any investments in modernising and enlarging the transmission lines. The system’s perverse incentives and lax regulation must be addressed in order to address the sector’s challenge. Even though we are capable of producing about 12,500 MW, the grid can only handle 5000 MW at a time. The effects of the billions of naira spent in Mambilla, Zungeru, and the work embarked on by Siemens is doing with the Transmission Company of Nigeria have not yet been felt by common Nigerians (TCN).

The 26 energy generation companies (Gencos), the 11 distribution companies (Discos), and the lone transmission company (TCN), which is still under government control, hardly go a week without trading accusations. Whatever the justifications, it is also true that other players in the power sector, particularly the federal government, have contributed to the problem with Nigeria’s electricity supply. To promote more investments and growth, the government, for instance, repeatedly tinkered with the legal requirement of establishing a cost-reflective tariff for the market. In order to overcome the major systemic problems that exist throughout the electricity value chain, a comprehensive strategy is required.

With 85 million people not connected to the grid and a loss of $26 billion yearly, Nigeria was ranked by the World Bank as the poorest nation in the world for providing citizens with access to electricity in a report released last year. Nigeria is one of the most difficult places in the world to do business since everyone provides their own electricity. Lack of electricity has hampered access to healthcare, education, and other possibilities, including running their enterprises for most of Nigerians. Many small and medium scale businesses have been hamstrung due to the high expense of generating their own power.

Without addressing the issues with this crucial infrastructure, our economy cannot expand. And each and every choice ought to be available.

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