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How the Siemens project can save Nigeria’s power sector

The FGN/Siemens project aims to modernize the Nigerian power system and reduce the transmission/distribution bottlenecks that will allow grid operational capacity increase, end-to-end, to 7,000MW within 2 years, 11,000MW within 4 years and 25,000MW 2 years further on!

In the past, we have heard promises like 10,000MW by “end of December” or towards an election. Therefore, it is pertinent to ask: “when will Nigerians in their offices, homes, shops, factories etc be able to give practical testimonies of the impact of the FGN/Siemens project?

Read Also: Siemens is ready for work to improve power output to 25,000MW

To have meaningful impact, the FGN/Siemens project has to be different.

To have desired results, power system planning is key. Also, the reasons for misalignments in fuel supply, generation, transmission, and distribution capacities (end-to-end grid operational capacity) have to be understood.

Power System Planning is the starting point of any power system investment that can make meaningful impact. Thus, there is need for the FGN/SIEMENS project to create a new era where proper power system planning by qualified power system engineers will be the basis for power network infrastructure investments. The FGN/Siemens project should be used to train Nigerian power engineering practitioners in the rudiments of power system planning. Training should target all electrical utilities, undergraduates and postgraduates studying power and machines in tertiary institutions and company representatives in the industrial sector of the economy.

In this regard, a Comprehensive Integrated Power System Planning (CISP) is required in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI). This can be achieved using the system development studies planned in the FGN/Siemens project when it carries out the full power network/system wide studies as an integrated system. This will establish the need for investments in hundreds of kilometres of gas, transmission, and distribution networks along with thousands of associated substations (new and upgrades) in the electricity supply value chain with significant local content participation. Building of assembly plants and manufacturing centres for power equipment should be part of the deal. Then, we can have predictable and reliable power supply.

Project Management should begin with a planning process that ensures value for investment (ROI) and that there are no duplication of projects, investments and financial interventions since we have so many intervention funds in the power sector- CBN, World Bank, AfDB, JICA, DISREP, NETAP etc. Also, there is need to ensure that projects listed for delivery will actually realize the grid operational capacity gaps identified. Otherwise, it has the potential to lead to white elephant projects. Thus, the preliminary studies should ensure among other things that the nominated projects are checked for alignment between transmission and distribution network infrastructure projects in order that Nigerians in all walks of life can get a quantum leapt in power supply experience.

One of the anticipated results of the preliminary studies will be the removal of “political projects”; projects that “do not make engineering sense”. Projects that can be described as quick wins and low hanging fruits can then be included. More importantly, consideration can now be given to project spread across all the geo-political zones, such that all parts of Nigeria can feel the impact of this laudable project at the same time.

Sustainable Electricity Systems

All energy mixes will be needed to take Nigeria to the status of having sustainable development in line with SDG30 development goals.

Renewable Energy (RE) from Solar Photovoltaic systems (PV) is needed. This week, a desert to power initiative based on harnessing solar power from the sahara desert has been inaugurated. In this regard, a national policy on RE will be beneficial.

Since over 40 years, no administration has invested in infrastructure like the present one. Certainly, in the power sector, this administration has taken a bold step with the FGN/Siemens project and it would have been the best to start and complete the projects in his tenure for political engineering reasons. However, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) is magnanimous enough to allow a six-year project to commence in the twig light of his administration because he understands that having electricity is the bedrock of industrialization and should never be tied to a four year political tenure.

The power problem in Nigeria is a complex problem that has been described as being administered in the spirit realms by the demons. It’s a huge problem that will only be solved in the next 30 years if we have the best brains continuously in the right positions for *the next 30 years*. Maybe an operation “lafia 30-30” should be declared as an emergency in the power sector!

In spite of the many challenges, PMB is determined to make Nigerians feel the impact of the Siemens’ project before too long but more importantly, beyond his tenure, to leave a legacy to be proud of.

Ogidan is the MD of Power Phase Services (PPS) and writes from Lagos, Nigeria

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