Economist says 40% of energy is lost in transmission

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Blames rising cost of electricity on low generation, energy loss

Nigeria produces a very low energy capacity for its industries and domestic use, yet the little that is generated, about 10 of what is needed, is mostly lost in transmission. This is the view of an energy expert.

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A Development Economist, Prof Uche Nwogwugwu of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, has said the crisis in the  Nigerian electricity sector lied largely on poor generation and energy loss in the course of transmission.

Nwogwugwu said this in Awka last week in a media chat. He said though energy no matter the source was not cheap, the high cost of electricity in Nigeria was mainly due to the inefficiency in the sector, noting that customers not be made to fund.

The energy expert who said about 40 per cent of energy generated was lost in transmission because of aging infrastructure pointed out that supply has not matched demand.

He said general expectation was that upon unbundling of the sector, Nigerians would enjoy better electricity services but expressed worry that rather poor supply and increased cost had characterised the sector.

“Energy is not cheap no matter the source, where it is cheap, it may have either been paid for or subsidised just like any other commodity but it is important because it is a critical infrastructure for sustainable economic development.

“The history of electricity generation in Nigeria is public domain, from the era of Electricity Company of Nigeria to this stage where it has been unbundled and gave rise to Generation, Transmission and Distribution  companies.

“But much as the GENCOs have not generated maximally, and TRANSCOs not been able to transmit electricity without energy loss, there is bound to be crisis in Nigeria energy sector.

“Electricity supply has not marched demand, a situation where we have  about 40 per cent of  total generation lost to transmission and energy theft is quite worrisome.

“Because of these identified challenges, increasing the cost of electricity becomes the only likely way the industry players can remain in business, which in turn hurts the economy by depleting income and consumption,” he said.

Nwogwugwu said what the sector needed now was additional investment by investors to improve efficiency rather than stifling the economy by making people to pay more.

He faulted blamed the players in the sector for having jot demonstrated that they had the manpower and financial capacity to drive and efficient and cost reflective electricity sector.

“It is a systemic problem, at the unbundling stage, the companies were even given loans as a way of making them start up  smoothly, meaning that from inception they lacked the capacity to drive the sector.

“There is need to clean and upgrade the upgrade electricity infrastructure to reduce losses, these   companies were supposed to come with money and expertise.

“Already, our industries are starved of energy what it means is that producing optimally but the complaints now are coming from the household consumers.

“The impact of increasing electricity cost is that it will negatively affect consumption pattern and the dilemma is that electricity is completely inelastic.

“Customers will have no option than to pay because they need electricity but the question is, will the commodity be available, how will the increase affect supply,” he said.

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