Experts in the Nigeria’s power sector has raised concerns over recent disconnection of power supply to Niger as part of sanctions for the military coup that deposed the country’s President, Mohammed Bazoum.
As contained in the NIGELEC website, Nigeria which provides up to 70 percent of electricity consumed in Niger, stopped transmitting electricity to the country, leading to large-scale power outages.
Speaking to Businessday, Experts feared that Nigeria’s hydroelectric dams, connected to the Niger river may be at risk.
Other concern highlighted by the experts include cut down in foreign exchange earnings from power sold to Niger.
“Energy should not be used as a bargaining power in addressing issues like this,” Lanre Elatuyi, energy analyst told BusinessDay.
For Elatuyi who said that the disconnection of energy supply to Niger may not translate to excess energy supply across Nigeria, the development will affect the foreign exchange earnings from power exported to Niger.
Businessday findings revealed that Nigeria received a sum of $21.34 million as earnings for electricity sold to NIGELEC- the electric power generation and transmission utility in Niger, which is one of Nigeria’s International electricity customers.
Also, no payment was made by the mainstreamNIGELEC for $5.48 million worth of electricity consumed in the first quarter of 2023.
Speaking further, Elatuyi explained that the development may also have adverse effect on Nigeria’s hydroelectric power, if Niger continues with its construction of dam on the Niger river.
Nigeria government had enter into joint agreement with Niger to provide electricity in exchange that the upstream neighbor will not obstruct the flow of water to the country’s hydroelectric Dams in Jebba, Kainji in Niger State.
The former President Buhari’s administration had explained that power exported to Niger, Benin and Togo was based on agreement that they would not dam the waters that feed Nigeria’s major power plants in Kainji, Shiroro and Jebba.
“By which we give them power and they do not build dams on the River Niger means that Nigeria and her brotherly neighbours had avoided the unfolding situation of the Nile River between the sovereign states of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt,” Garba Shehu, the presidential spokenman had said in 2020.
Also speaking with Businessday, the president, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, Kunle Kola OLUBIYO said that the power supply disconnection which was taken as part of efforts to address the coup in Niger will affect Nigeria’s economy stating that traders were already counting losses due to closure of Niger border.
According to him, traders in the Northern part of Nigeria had decried the loss of about N13 billion weekly due to the closure of borders between Nigeria and Niger Republic.
President Bola Tinubu had on August 4 ordered the closure of all borders with Niger Republic which the Nigerian Customs have now enforced.
The borders include Jibiya in Katsina State, Illelah in Sokoto and Maigatari in Jigawa.
According to Olubiyo, “The intervention of the Nigerian government in addressing this issue in Niger will have great impact on the Nigerian economy not just the power sector.
“Many traders have already started counting losses, up to N13 billion in the North.
“We may begin to see reduced water supply to Kainji and Jebba dams which is a source of our hydroelectric power. Even though hydro power is now about 10-15 percent of our electricity source,” he said.
Olubiyi speaking further said that shutting down supply to Niger does not guarantee increased supply to Nigerians noting the presence of indigenous challenges impeding power supply.
According to him, the distribution companies are not able to ensure 100 percent collection of revenue for power distributed within the country.
“DisCos are not yet able to guarantee 100 percent payments for electricity they distribute.
“No one will want to give power to customers that are not willing to pay. So even if Nigeria cut power supply to other countries, we may not see it leading to an improved supply within the country,” he said.
This is as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, stated that of the N252.92 billion cumulative upstream invoices payable by DisCos in Q1, 2023, a total sum of ₦170.59 billion was remitted to the market operator in the period.