By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA: The Federal Government, yesterday, announced plans to turn the electricity supply to neighboring African countries under diplomatic tie into bilateral arrangements in order to open up the sector to private investors.
Recall Nigeria is supplying energy to Benin Republic and Togo, and Niger Republic under diplomatic tie between it and the affected countries.
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But while addressing newsmen during the opening ceremony of a two-day West Africa Power Pool, WAPP, conference in Abuja, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, Mr. Usman Gur Mohammed said the intention of the government to convert the diplomatic arrangement to bilateral arrangement was to woo more investors into the sector.
Mr. Mohammed, who is the Chairman of WAPP, however, clarified that the energy supplying to Niger Republic, Benin and Togo as at today was not under eligible customer arrangement.
According to him, “But the intention as per of ECOWAS electricity market, we have to move those diplomatic arrangement to bilateral arrangement so that generators in Nigeria and Distribution Companies that want to buy electricity in Benin, Togo and Niger Can enter into arrangement and that is what we are working towards to comply with the ECOWAS electricity market in consistent with the regulation of ECOWAS electricity market.
He said the goals of WAPP were to ensure reduction of cost of electricity in West Africa, adding, “You know West African as at today has one of the highest costs of energy all over the world. And the object of WAPP is to ensure that we reduce the cost of energy.
“And how do we reduce the cost of energy? We reduce the cost of energy by ensuring that we reduce this emergency or eliminate emergency generations by countries. Where countries will under emergency scheme establish generation through a costly fuel system that will increase the end users’ cost, that is the cost that is add to the consumers.
“So, how are we working to solve the problem of emergency generation and reduce the cost of energy in West Africa? We are doing that through the scheme that we have established. If you remember, just recently, we did the 2019 to 2023 WAPP West African generation and transmission master plan.
“The intention of that is to ensure that we did not only finish our current scheme that we are trying to connect all the mainland countries, we should also come up with new transmission lines across West Africa and generation stations across West Africa that will ensure redundancy and provide flexibility for supply of electricity across West Africa.
“The objective of this 2019 to 2023 WAPP West African generation and transmission master plan signed by the ECOWAS Head of States and Governments in November 2018 is to ensure that we also connect to the West African Power Pool, WAPP.
“We can look at the possibility of taping from Ingatri in Congo and also the possibility of connecting to the Northern African Power Pool.
“Under that scheme, we are building a 330KV line right from Nigeria up till Senegal. And if you look recently in the papers, you will see that we have advertised for the procurement of consultants that would do the feasibility study for the first segment. That is the line that will run from Shiroro to Zungeru to Kainji to Paraku to Northern Togo, Northern Ghana and to end in Cote d’Ivoire.
“That was launched recently and the procurement processes is on. So, once we create the transmission line, across West Africa and we provide redundancy, the intention is to ensure that we transmit energy from the places that are cheap, and to places that are very costly.
“Today, to some extent, Nigeria has a comparative advantage since energy will flow from these points Nigeria to some of these countries where they have high cost of fuel. In doing that we can create a lot of jobs here, we create jobs for Nigerians and we can also earn foreign exchange for this country.”