FG borrowed N1.3tn in four years to subsidise power consumers, firms – World Bank

FG borrowed N1.3tn in four years to subsidise power consumers, firms – World  Bank - Punch Newspapers

The Federal Government has borrowed a total of N1.3tn since 2017 to ensure that generation companies and gas suppliers received enough payments to continue generating electricity, the World Bank has said.

The bank said this in its ‘Resilience through Reforms’ report.

According to the report, the power sector in Nigeria will cost the Federal Government an additional N3.08tn through 2023, if current performance levels and low tariffs persist.

The report said, “To ensure that Gencos and gas suppliers receive enough payments to continue generating electricity, since 2017 the FGN has borrowed a total of N1.3tn ($4.2bn).

“In 2019 total FGN support reached N524bn ($1.7bn), 0.4 per cent of GDP – higher than the N428bn budget for health and just 20 per cent less than the N650bn budgeted for education.”

Even though all the six generation companies, and eleven distribution companies have been privatised, the Federal Government through the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company buys electricity from the GENCOs and independent power producers before reselling to the Discos, the bank said.

The report noted that the government, through the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, regulates tariff in the sector rather allow market forces to determine it.

Access to grid electricity for the nation’s poorest (about 40 per cent of total population) is 31 per cent, it said.

According to the report, there are over 22 million gasoline generators that power about 26 per cent of all households and 30 per cent of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the nation.

The report said the generating sets generated eight times more electricity than the national grid.

The World Bank said inhalation of smoke from the sets was linked to about 1,500 deaths annually.

According to the report, in 2018, Nigerians spent about N3.7tn on the purchase and operation of the generating sets.

Every year, Nigeria loses between N7tn and N10tn annually to unreliable electricity supply, the report said, adding that this was about five to seven per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of the nation.

It said Nigeria had about 12,500 MW of installed capacity, dominated by natural gas, 88 per cent, with hydro making up the rest.

In 2020, over 51 per cent of this capacity was not available due to maintenance and repair work, it said.

Of the 6,158 MW that was available, an average of just 4,087 MW was available for generation, because of both insufficient gas supply, transmission and distribution constraints, and the inability of DISCOs to purchase power, it added.

In 2020 installed capacity functioned at 33 per cent. Of the 4,087MW of generation capacity that was available, only 32,181 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity was generated and sent to the DISCOS.

The report said seven per cent was lost in transmission, leaving the DISCOS with 30,000 GWh, three per cent above benchmark.

According to the World Bank, distribution network losses were also quite high: The Discos delivered only 75 per cent of the electricity they received, losing 7,656 GWh to poor infrastructure and theft. Thirty-two per cent of electricity was lost during transmission and distribution.

In 2020, Discos billed 22,163 GWh of electricity to their customers (60 per cent of whom were not metered). Ideally, this should have generated N816bn in revenue for the DISCOs, but they were only able to collect N542bn as revenue, the report said.

In July 2020, the FG launched a N23tn Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan to assuage the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, the report recalled.

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