Penultimate week, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) unveiled plans to increase the country’s transmission capacity from 8,100Mw to 20,000 megawatts (Mw) of electricity by 2023.
Announcing the plans during a stakeholders’ forum in Abuja, TCN Managing Director, Mr. Usman Mohammed, said the agency would achieve this goal through its policy tagged ‘Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREM). The firm is unequivocal about its plans to help boost the country’s electricity industry by implementing some far-reaching measures in the transmission of power.
TCN hopes to build more power transmission substations and improve the quality of the existing ones across the country by replacing faulty parts with new ones.
Expectedly, the news was cheery as it brought a new wave of optimism to the sector, which has been struggling to transmit 4,000Mw.
The announcement created divergent views among stakeholders in the sector. Some received the news with excitement as they believe transmission of 20,000Mw would revamp the sector, while others believe the increase has been long overdue as the transmission arm of the supply chain has been unable to operate optimally over the years.
However, there is need to examine some salient issues in the sector to determine the readiness or otherwise of the capacity of TCN to tackle the hitches in electricity transmission.
According to the Managing Director, Powercap Limited, Mr Biodun Ogunleye, TCN has embarked on many infrastructural projects. It must have conducted feasibility studies on those projects to know its capacity before it said it is targeting 20,000Mw transmission.
Ogunleye said: “The transmission agency must have carefully selected contractors for the job, knowing full well that the project is technical and requires enough expertise. TCN must have asked itself some questions before making huge declarations that transmission capacity would hit 20,000Mw by 2023.
“TCN must have questions on whether the contractors would perform or not or whether the contractors hold allegiance to one political group or the other before arriving at a conclusion that it would improve the transmission capacity of the sector.
Also, the agency must have discovered whether it has the capacity to build 10 power substations or more before making such pronouncement. On this basis, one can safely say that TCN is prepared to achieve that goal.”
He said TCN has Right of Ways (RoWs) and loading centres across the country, stressing these RoWs and centres are not well utilised by the company.
“Perhaps the nation’s transmission company is planning to maximise its potential by fully using its Right of Ways and Loading Centres to improve the transmission capacity of the power sector. If that is the case, the country would not have a problem increasing its transmission capacity soon,” he added.
Ogunleye said TCN is engaging incremental business and not what he described as virgin business, considering that it has many ongoing projects across the country, which it can leverage to boost power supply.
However, the former country’s President, International Association of Energy Economists (IAEE), Prof Adeola Akinnisiju, holds a different view. According to him, the issue of increasing transmission capacity to 20,000 Mw would amount to a tall order if TCN fails to consider the cost of investment in the transmission equipment before it ventures into it.
He argued that there were changes in the economic variables globally, and that the changes differ from one economy to the other. This implies that the cost of investment in the transmission facilities in a country must be well-thought out, otherwise, meaningful progress would not be achieved in that area.
He said if the Federal Government is able to attract the much-needed investments into its power sector, the better it is for Nigeria, which has a generation capacity of 12,500 Mw of electricity and transmission capacity of 8,100 Mw of electricity but could not give this to electricity consumer due to dearth of infrastructure.
He said it is the responsibility of every stakeholder to be involved in promoting the growth of the sector, considering the critical situation in which the sector and the country is.
TCN has in the last two years inaugurated many transmission substations and more than 40 power transformers. The agency increased its wheeling capacity from 5,500Mw in 2016 to 8,100Mw early last year and is keenly interested in providing more facilities for the sector going by its actions in recent times.
Apart from the several interventions made by the Federal Government to strengthen the liquidity position of the sector and further make it capable of financing some of its projects, TCN is believed to have financial assistance from credible and international financial institu-tions. The African Development Bank (AfDB) is said to have provided facility for the the country’s transmission projects.
Stakeholders said the financial assistance TCN has received would help the company to perform its obligations in the power sector.
The agency is seen as the weakest link in the electricity market going by the various blames, which it has attacted. These include the power generation companies (GenCos) that complained about the inability of TCN to take the power they produce, to the power distribution companies (DisCos) that accused the TCN of going wrong with their delivery of electricity to Nigerians.
But the Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), Mrs Joy Ogaji, declined comment, saying TCN would be in better position to answer the question.