TCN: Mainstreaming Power Infrastructure Development for Reliable Electricity
22 January 2024
Precious Ugwuzor writes that for the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, its responsibility of mainstreaming power infrastructure development is sacrosanct as the goal is to ensure that all Nigerians experience better and more reliable electricity supply across the country
Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), controlled by the federal government, is said to be the most reliable, dependable and most transparent in the power sector value chain. The reason is not far-fetched; it has been responsible for mainstreaming power infrastructure development.
Just last December, TCN announced that about 53 Transmission projects will be completed and commissioned in May 2024. The projects entail the delivery of eight 150MVA power transformers, 19 1000MVA transformers, 60MVA transformers, reconductoring existing transmission lines (conductors and accessories), upgrading of the existing 132/33KV substations, and construction of 33KV line bays.
Spread across the six geo-political zones of the country, the projects are aimed at ensuring steady and regular supply of electricity, which at its completion, additional 1,000 megawatts of power will be transmitted.
The Managing Director TCN, Sule Abdulaziz had at major power conferences and dialogue re-assured Nigerians of increase power supply, saying the ongoing projects were funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN with a loan of N122 BIllion in its continuous power intervention programme aimed at ending the power sector menace.
He said TCN loyalty and accountability is to the federal government and consumers of electricity, in pursuance with its core mandate in the electricity value chain which consist of Generation, Transmission and Distribution.
In a chat with a major power sector player, Anthony Uchendu, he said TCN has sustained a veritable record of performance in-spite of regular vandalism of its power installations across the country, describing the organisation as the most effective and most transparent in the power sector value chain.
According to Uchendu, the 53 ongoing contracts were visited by the media in last year drawing officials from the Central Bank of Nigeria, officials from the Ministry of Power and the Transmission Company of Nigeria TCN to sensitise consumers of electricity of the efforts made by government to address the challenges in the power sector.
Earlier, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, mentioned that even though the country has handed over the responsibility of generating and distributing power to private entities, the part that handles transmitting electricity is still managed by the government.
However, this area hasn’t seen enough progress mainly because the infrastructure, such as substations, transformers, and power lines, are getting old and aren’t strong enough.
Adelabu promised that the government would focus on reorganising and improving this infrastructure. The aim is to ensure that all Nigerians experience better and more reliable electricity supply across the country.
Moreover, the Abuja Transmission Scheme when completed would add 1,380mva transformer capacity, equivalent to 624 megawatts (mw), to the grid. It is confirmed that the TCN had received, with the assistance of the federal government, a credit from Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) to reinforce the high-voltage transmission ring around Abuja. TCN is adding additional two 330/132/34KV substations and additional three 132/33KV substations in the FCT.
The increase in transmission capacity would improve power supply within Abuja and its environs, as well as positively impact the socio-economic wellbeing of the people.
The Abuja feeding scheme is one of the projects under the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREP) designed to tackle issues of transmission nationwide, and in specific locations.
Under the TREP project, the TCN had been able to commission several transmission substations and installed over 30 power transformers across the country, and also achieved a frequency control within 49.8-50.2 in the last one year.
It is of note that the 132 kilovolt Dawaki Gas Insulated Substation (GIS) near Gwarinpa in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which is one of the projects, has been completed.
The project is just one of the five already substations under the AFD-funded Abuja Feeding Scheme, comprising a 330kv substation, four 132kv substations, and their transmission lines, as well as a 330kv transmission line from Lafia to Abuja.
The project site assessment exercise by the AFD team was part of its first mission aimed at monitoring and providing timely intervention that would ensure a timely actualisation of the projects. However, various presidential power initiatives have given support to and aided the competence of the Transmission Company of Nigeria which translates to the remarkable improvement in the supply of power.
Recall that at the end of 2023, the Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu had announced the unbundling of the Transmission Company of Nigeria TCN under the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Electricity Turn Around Agenda (ETA).
According to the minister, the plan will lead to efficiency and enhance delivery. However, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) through its president, Joe Ajaero differ in thoughts. The congress has insisted that TCN be allowed to function as entity without any interference or division if the needed power sector reforms must be achieved.
Ajaero told newsmen that the further divisions anticipated will rather slow down the infrastructure development agenda of TCN, lamenting that 10 years after privatisation of the sector, no meaningful impact has been made to increase generation and distribution of electricity.
He therefore called on government to strengthen the capacity and funding of TCN to ensure that obsolete transmission lines and outdated power installations are replaced to enhance increase in the supply of electricity.
A ministry official had said earlier that the TCN is synonymous to power sector development, saying allegations of corrupt practices against it is intended to disrepute the Managing Director, Sule Abdulaziz and create tension to actualise the polarisation of the agency.
According to him, government has looked the other way in a contract sum of N39 Billion paid in full to a contractor in the Ministry of Power for the supply and installation of meters to military formations, Ministries, Departments and Agencies MDAs in 2017 and up untill now not a single meter has been supplied.
The official further alleged that the N39 Billion has yielded over N20 Billion in interest and proceeds shared between ministry officials, the contractor and a new generation bank.
He said the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu had intervened in the matter and ordered the release of the funds to a contractor under a consortium agreement to commence the project but the company had remained adamant.
He advised government to go after the two principal actors to ensure the commencement of the project and as well be prosecuted for money laundering, rather than waste energy in fighting heads of agencies when contractors and commercial banks are conniving with government officials to defraud and loot the treasury.
Similarly, in November last year, the Chairman House Committee on Finance at the National Assembly, Hon. James Falake, had summoned the contractor and Ministry of Power officials to appear before its committee to offer explanation to why N39 Billion of federal government funds was stashed in the bank without utilisation.
Notwithstanding all these hiccups, the Transmission Company of Nigeria is bent on living up to its responsibility of transmitting and mainstreaming power to the betterment of society.
Even though the country has handed over the responsibility of generating and distributing power to private entities, the part that handles transmitting electricity is still managed by the government… government would focus on reorganising and improving this infrastructure. The aim is to ensure that all Nigerians experience better and more reliable electricity supply across the country