All posts tagged POWER DEFICIT


Nigeria’s Power Minister’s Bold Electricity Framework Stands on a Shaky Base

By Toyin Akinosho

Saleh Mamman, Nigeria’s Minister of Power, who has only spent close to 20 months in office, identifies liquidity issue as the most important challenge of the country’s electricity supply industry.

Nigeria generates around 5,000MW of electricity, which is inefficiently transmitted and poorly distributed.

Mamman has constructed a framework for the sector with, Infrastructure Alignment as the Number 1 focus. He wants to fix the infrastructure gap in Transmission and Distribution, by executing the Electrification Plan, which is, largely the Siemens Plan he met on the table.

That plan, which will cost around $2Billion aims to refurbishsome very important equipment and construct new ones, in order to deliver far more generated electricity than its being done now

Saleh’s second focus is a soft power item: Market Efficiency and Transparency..involving the refinement of the commercial technical, and regulatory components of transaction agreements; promoting fiscal discipline and effectively utilizing all sector loans (World Bank and Payment Assurance Facility) as well asenforcing market discipline and contract effectiveness by the regulator. 

This is the area that the private sector part of the chain -the Generating Companies (gencos) and the Distribution Companies (discos) -has seen the most cause to criticize government for not addressing. So, it has to be addressed.  But it can be far more challenging to deliver than building infrastructure and it is a perpetual work in progress. What it needs, for a start, is the high visibility of the Minister’s body language. And Saleh has shown a particularly good example. 

In a recent case he queried the changes to the minimum capacity quantities of two power plants: Olorunsogo and Omotosho, by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN). He publicly criticised the company’s non-compliance with the rulings of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC)-arguing, forcefully that such attitude of a government owned company to the regulator, “poses not only operational challenges but also reputational implications for the sector, and by extension, the Federal Government”. Saleh directed that NERC’s rulings “should be obeyed”.

The Saleh Blueprint’s third thematic focus areaCorporate Governance/Sector Policy Coordination may come across as different from the second, but the way to address it is similar: largely by the Minister’s own body language. In fact, if Mamman Saleh forcefully backs the NERC as a regulator, and vigorously promotes its independence, NERC would have little reason to think it has to court the National Assembly (the parliament) for approval on any issue. The same way the Minister addressed the case of TCN versus NERC case, and came out courageously to respond to the National Assembly’s suggestion to postpone the idea of cost reflectivity, his interventions can send out positive message about law and order on several other interface issues.

 The Nigerian government has finally shown the politically will to allow a cost reflective electricity tariff, after significant pressure, ntably from the IMF..

The last two focus areas in Saleh’s Blueprint, are equally challenging: Increase Energy Accesswhich talks of extending the net of electricity offgrid and the Execution of Legacy Projects. These are two focus areas whose execution can readily slip because most of the work is outside the minister’s ready grasp. 

For the Increase in Energy Access, which in the framing in Saleh’s blueprint, is largely about renewables and minigrids, significant inflow of capital is required, outside those already committed to the Siemens Plan and the Pre-Siemens funding on Transmission infrastructure. It is true that the Minister’s success in other areas, especially Market Efficiency and Transparency and Governance, will help in unlocking the vault, but these things have to be happening around the same time, so some Big Bold New Idea has to be seen by the Renewables Community and Private Equity Funders and Development Financiers around the World.

Regarding the Legacy Projectsa lot is riding on trust by the investing community, because, truly, in the year 2021, the Nigerian state shouldn’t be funding, from the treasury, a mammoth project like the 3,500MW Mambila Plateau Hydroelectric power. Yes, if that community sees that the needle is moving in the right direction in terms of Market Efficiency (Focus area Number 2) and Governance (Focus area Number 3), they will show interest. But we still need to provide solid commercial case

That is why we argue Saleh Mamman’s framework has a bit of challenge in detail. 

I am not looking for nuts and bolts, but there is little inkling of what we can do differently to pull the likes of Mambilla, which will make a significant difference in generation capacity, even to communities not being served at the moment.

Nigeria’s BIG plan to unlock the suppressed generation capacity is the SIEMENS plan. But what are the equivalents of this idea for Renewable IPPs and the Legacy Projects? How do investors see clear line of sight to recouping their money?

We all know what happened about Renewables in South Africa between 2012 and 2015. The country was on the road to becoming one of the world’s largest renewable industries, without a single cent of government spend. And there were increasing localization achievements from Bid window to bid window -this was at government’s insistence and the investors were willing. Then (the power utility) Eskom started to talk down the commerciality and government, treating Eskom -as the be all and end all- made the mistake of listening too earnestly to Eskom. And all that investment dried up.

Finally, the Saleh Framework Plan is significant for what it says as it is for what it does not say.

One crucial thing it does not say is how the Ministry of Power will gain some handle on Gas to Power. I think that successive Power ministers have been too shy about demanding to understand the link between the reservoirs that geologists find, (and which engineers develop) and the Power Plants.

The mistake that is largely made is that “Oh: that broken link is a standard problem. Once it is fixed; everything will be alright. And the Ministry of Petroleum will fix it”.

No please, it’s a long, ongoing process of request, engagement, understanding, fixing, mitigation, all the time. 

And it is better for the Power Ministry to be fully attentive, with its own men, to the little details. Because, when you make those transmission and distribution gains after the Siemens Plan is implemented, you will find that you’d be struggling to get the gas to generate the power you thought was there ready to be generated.

Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s President from 1999 to 2007, used to superintend a monthly, fortnightly meeting with gas producers, who were invariably the major oil companies. He convinced two of them (ENI, Shell) to build a power plant each.Those are today, some of the country’s most reliable plants and they most readily receive natural gas in the country.

I believe that, with how far Nigeria has come, the least the Minister of Power could do is to insist on a monthly meeting with the Petroleum Ministry, and every company that has a Gas Processing Plant (not all have) and every company that supplies some molecules into those poorly maintained, gas pipelines.

This article was initially published in the November-December 2020 edition of Africa Oil+Gas Report


Nigeria: Siemens’ Infrastructure Upgrade will be Converted to Loan in Discos’ Balance Sheets

By John Oforiata Ankromah, in Abuja

The Nigerian government is spending more than $2Billion to fund the first phase of Siemens’ upgrade of transmission and disco infrastructure across the country.

This is called the Siemens presidential power initiative, after the German engineering contractor Siemens, who will see to the upgrade.

As the Electricity Distribution companies (DISCOSs), are mostly owned by the private sector, with a significant minority owned by the state, the government’s contract to Siemens for the upgrade is a huge investment into the entire DISCOS’ franchise.

The plan is that, after the completion of the upgrade, the Government’s total investment will be converted into a long-term shareholder loan, “which technically is a systematic way of capitalising the DISCOS without really giving them money that may not necessarily be used towards improving the infrastructure”, impeccable government sources tell Africa Oil+Gas Report.

In summary, the Nigerian government borrows money, uses the money in an integrated way to improve the entire electricity value chain, quantifies the amount that has been spent on every DISCO and then books the amount as a long-term convertible loan. Now, the DISCOS are expected to pay back that which has been lent.

But, can the loan be converted into equity?

Answer: The Nigerian Government is still thinking about that possibility.


Egypt’s lagging Transmission Upgrade Cramps the Gains of Electricity Generation

By Toyin Akinosho

Some 27,000MW of energy out of the 58,000MW generation capacity, cannot be delivered to the final consumers

Egypt embarked on an accelerated increase in electricity generation from 2015.

Now the country produces 58,000MW of electricity, ousting the power cuts that were severe between 2011 and 2014.

But the large surplus of supply, even during peak demand in the summer, has not totally annulled the blackouts around the country. Power outage stubbornly remains because transmission capacity has lagged behind generation increase.

Part of the problem is that the jump in generation was delivered by the government, without a comprehensive reform that ensures private parties contributing to generation, transmission and distribution at the same time.

The Electricity Ministry speedily added more than 28,000 MW in six years, through 27 power plants, excluding the (vast solar power plant) Benban park, which by November 2019, was producing almost 1,500MW.

The frenetic pace in increase in generation left transmission and distribution capacity in the dust, such that 40% of the total generation cannot be picked up by the relatively more outdated transmission and distribution infrastructure.

In effect, some 27,000MW of energy out of the 58,000MW generation capacity, cannot be delivered to the final consumers. Besides, operational and equipment inefficiencies keep some 4% of energy away.

The Egyptian government has been playing catch up with transmission and distribution infrastructure build out.

The Electricity Ministry built transmission lines between 2014 and 2018 extending over 2,600kilometres, the ministry spokespersons say. That’s equivalent to the total lines established over the previous five decades. “The grid had been built, starting from the 1960s, with a total length of less than 2,000 kilometres”, Mohamed Shaker, the Minister of Electricity & Renewable Energy, told the American Chamber of Commerce in February 2018. “We are constructing over 2,000kilometres, using a Chinese company, the largest in the world, as well some local companies.”

But that is not enough. The Ministry has spent   more than $1.6Billion (EGP 25Billion) between 2018-2020 to upgrade the transmission grid, and is now planning to invest another $765Milllion (EGP 12Billion) during the current fiscal year, $35Million (EGP 555Million) of which is going towards Greater Cairo alone, the Ministry claims. The target is extension of total transmission lines to 6,006km, by end of 2020, a situation which raises the maximum load to 32,000MW — a 600 MW or 1.87% increase.

Mr. Shaker’s ministry’s 2018-2021 plan called for reducing electricity loss from 4.07% in 2018-2019 to 3.82% in 2019-2020 and to 3.8% in FY2020-21. These losses were common due to the poor-performing transmission and distribution lines, in addition to consumers obtaining electricity illegally by linking houses to distribution lines directly without a meter to count consumption, thus avoiding paying of dues.

The government also says it is replacing more than 30km of medium-voltage overhead lines at a cost of $2Million (EGP 30Million). Africa Oil+Gas Report could not verify the ministry’s claim that this project, on its own, has led to a 25% decrease in blackouts. There are also plans to build a “parallel core grid”, of around 500 m of transmission lines as a safety gap to improve the service and reduce loads on the main network.

Work is also going on to replace overhead lines with underground cables. Projects are far more advanced in heavily populated areas, such as Cairo.

Despite Egypt’s significant success in increasing generation, there are areas, including East Owinat, Marsa Alm, Halayeb and Shalatin, which are outside of the grid. The government says it plans to extend electricity lines to some of those areas, but the details are hazy.

The current grid for the most part relies on outdated technologies that incur major maintenance costs and make identifying the causes of interruptions difficult. Whenever a power interruption occurrs, electricity distribution companies have to wait for consumers to report the problem. Once they receive a complaint, they investigate the cause, and either find a quick fix or order a reroute of the line — altogether an exhausting and time-consuming operation.

Egypt’s electricity ministry is also talking about is smart meters. “We are going to have our distribution network to be a smart grid”, Shaker told the American Chamber of Commerce in Cairo. One Million, Two hundred and fifty thousand smart meters were under construction, he said.

It takes a lot more effort, than just constructing smart metes, to effect a smart grid, which allows utilities and customers to receive information from and communicate with the grid.

The Egyptian government has moved far slower to work on transmission and distribution of electricity than it has done on generation. Mr. Shaker’s presentations to the American Chamber of Commerce in Cairo in February 2018 and June 2019, which were published by Africa Oil+Gas Report, were both loud on the work on generation and relatively quiet on the achievements in transmission. But Egypt, more than any other in Africa, is keeping its eyes on the electricity ball.

This piece was originally published in the September 2020 edition of the monthly Africa Oil+Gas Report. It’s one of few select articles that make it from paid subscription service to the free newsletter


Kenya Reduces Electricity Outages by 50% in Four Years

Kenya’s Ministry of Energy says that the average time customers are shut out of power supply per month has reduced from four hours per month in 2016 to one hour, 40 minutes in 2020.

Response time to outages has also improved, the data says. Over the same period, the number of hours, on average, that customers are cut off supply to fix power lines has dropped from seven to four.

These numbers concern the segment of the population that are connected to publicly generated electricity.

Kenya has a population of 48 Million people, according to 2019 data from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics. A 2019 International Energy Agency (IEA) report says that 75% of Kenyans have access to electricity.  It also says that over 95% of urban dwelling Kenyans have access, but 66% of rural Kenyans have access.

Kenya’s current effective installed (grid connected) electricity capacity is 2,651 MW, with peak demand of 1,912 MW, as of November 2019. At that time, demand was rising at a calculated rate of 3.6% annually, given that peak demand was 1,770 MW, at the beginning of 2018.

It’s curious how 75% of 48 Million people, which is 36Million, could find less than 2,000MW of electricity generation adequate.

But just five years ago, only 41% of the Kenyan population had access to electricity, according to the IEA report.

Charles Keter, Kenya’s Energy Cabinet Secretary, says the country has invested in measures to reduce power outages and is looking to have a utility that assures its customers of reliable power in the next few years.

The Energy ministry claims that Kenya Power has invested some $645Million improving its distribution infrastructure by constructing new substations and undergrounding of power lines to reduce interferences that cause outages.

 

 

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