Nigeria—regarded by the World Bank as an “emerging market”—has demonstrated sub-Saharan Africa’s inability to maintain an advanced Western infrastructure as its power grid collapsed for the seventh time this year, plunging the entire country into darkness.
Local Nigerian media reported a total collapse of “all the nation’s power plants” and said that a “top executive of one of the nation’s electricity distribution companies” admitted on “condition of anonymity that the national grid first collapsed on Friday.
When asked to explain the cause of the outage, he said “It’s a general thing; it is a system collapse. It happened yesterday and this morning. All the power plants were shut down.”
Another report said that data obtained from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing showed that the grid had collapsed seven times this year already.
“Fifteen out of the nation’s 27 power plants were not generating any megawatts as of 6am on June 9, as the collapse led to the shutdown of five additional plants, including Egbin in Lagos,” the report continued.
The management of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company has “appealed to customers within its network not to engage in illegal connections to save lives and property.”
The Head, Branding and Corporate Communications, IBEDC, Angela Olanrewaju, who gave the warning in a statement, urged customers not to tamper with electricity cables.
According to her, the habit of tapping electrical power directly from low tension lines to power light bulbs during parties and community carnivals is illegal and should be stopped.
She said, “The act has been identified as a major source of leakages and commercial losses to the company, making it difficult for the company to account for the full monetary value of the energy received from the market operator.
“Nobody should assume that a wire is safe to touch even if it is down or appears to be insulated. Our customers are advised not to touch any fallen overhead power lines. We advise customers to call the IBEDC or visit the nearest office to report fallen electrical lines.”
Olanrewaju also advised customers to switch off all electrical appliances and unplug them from the mains when not in use and when leaving their houses.
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said there had “been a drop in the electricity generated into the national grid” which resulted in “load shedding”—a phrase which means forced blackouts in certain areas to prevent demand overwhelming the power stations.
“TCN said the load shedding was necessary to maintain stability of the grid. According to TCN, the sharp drop of power generated was occasioned by gas pipeline rupture on June 15, and technical issues at the Shell gas wells on June 16.”
“TCN explained that six thermal power generating stations were currently unable to generate electricity and have therefore been shut down due to the Nigeria Gas Company (NGC) pipeline incident.”
Meanwhile, many parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had been out of supply in the past two days. In a telephone interview, AEDC’s Head of Corporate Communication, Fadipe Oyebode, attributed the non-supply and load shedding in some areas to the limited allocation from the national grid to AEDC.
Oyebode said AEDC was only allocated 194.58MW from the grid on June 16, out its total 11 per cent total allocation hence its inability to fully supply to its customers.
* Meanwhile, in South Africa, another African state struggling to maintain its inherited First World infrastructure, that country’s state-run electricity supplier Eskom announced that it was “likely to implement load shedding again” as “the [country’s] power grid remains constrained.”