Dr Taiwo Ogunboyo (FUTA, Electrical and Electronic Engineering) is of the opinion that a vital obstacle to uninterrupted power supply in Nigeria lies in secondary distribution networks.
He immediately noted the use of inadequate (ageing and overloaded) transformers as being the major problem. 100KVA where 500KVA ought to be used, serving 300 to 400 homes when it was designed for 200.
This is usually the case in communities where we have power-rationing. One neighbourhood in a community will have power only for a specific time interval, power is then disrupted in this neighbourhood to provide power for another.
Our continual practice of overloading transformers is a serious roadblock to stable power in Nigeria. But even when power is restored to a neighbourhood there is still that unaddressed issue of long-distance loads. Especially in towns and rural areas on the outskirts on the national grid. Large losses occur in these power lines as a result consumers are fed fickle voltages.
Power theft (those that connect illegally along the line) contributes to the problem. Discos do not monitor their lines for irregularities as frequently as they should. This is a domain where IoT and data analysis would be of great benefit.
In more developed countries, underground cables distribute power. This makes power theft quite difficult and totally avoid the issues caused by rain, thunderstorms, birds and other animals.
“Even if we generate only 2MW that is enough to give constant power supply in Nigeria if the distribution is properly set up,” says Dr Taiwo.
Yes, we have problems with generation stations as well but even with what we currently generate (about 4MW) is enough if we have proper distribution networks.
Take the Awule area of Ondo state and all other communities in Nigeria with no power for months or years now. This is definitely not the case that the power being generated is not enough. But for most, it’s usually a case of faulty transformers gone unaddressed or billing issues.
Nigeria has an electrification rate of 60%, residential homes constitute a major chunk. Let’s (for a clear picture) take out some industrial zones and major cities in Lagos, Ogun and Rivers state. It immediately becomes obvious that the rest of Nigeria consumes so little power.
Most have just light bulbs and fans at home. Data shows quite a few own freezers or air conditioners or other energy-thirsty appliances. But our transformers are of age. The lines are too long; how will two villages, more than 75km apart, share one transformer?