© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
FACT CHECK: Has electricity generation worsened or improved since 2015? We verified
NIGERIA’s top two political parties apparently disagree on how much electricity the country is currently generating compared to four years ago when the Buhari administration started.
Speaking in August, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the power sector was no longer where it used to be three years ago when “power generation was the main problem of Nigeria”.
“We were distributing averagely 2,690 megawatts of electricity to Nigerians, but today, that story has changed, distribution has risen to 5,222 megawatts, an all-time national high,” he said at the fourth edition of the Ministry’s retreat for top directors, heads of units and chief executives of agencies and parastatals.
“Transmission has reached 7,000 while generation has reached 7,000. The problem has not finished but all we can say is that, we have made progress,” he added.
Also, in May 2018, while highlighting its many achievements, the presidency stated that its Transmission Expansion and Rehabilitation Programme “has resulted in a 50 per cent expansion in Grid Capacity since 2015, from 5,000MW to 7,125MW as at December 2017”.
In contrast, the opposition People’s Democratic Party, which ruled between 1999 and 2015, has disputed these claims in a recent press statement released by Phrank Shaibu, its presidential candidate’s Special Adviser on Public Communications.
“Talking of infrastructure, despite an ‘investment’ of over N1 trillion by the Buhari-led APC administration in infrastructure, the nation’s roads have become death traps and power generation has actually dipped from 4,949 megawatts PDP left in 2015 to less than 3,500 megawatts even though Buhari’s handlers consistently claim that 7,000 megawatts is what is currently being generated,” he said.
What the statistics really say
The Nigeria Electricity System Operator, a subsidiary of the Transmission Company of Nigeria which operates the transmission system, has been making daily operational reports on electricity generation data publicly available. The reports date back to April 9 2014, and have been uploaded on the agency’s website nearly every day since then.
Each report states the peak and lowest generation of the previous day, the national peak demand forecast, installed generation capacity (of all generating plants), available generation capacity, current transmission capability of all high voltage substations (also called transmission wheeling capacity), network operational capability, peak generation ever attained, among other data.
For clarity purposes, installed generation (or nominal) capacity is the “intended full-load sustained output of a facility such as a power plant and available generation capacity is the amount of electricity a generator produces over a specific period of time, which may vary due to planning, conditions at the power plant or fuel costs.
Also, current transmission capability refers to the maximum amount of electricity transmission lines can transport from the grid to distribution lines, which then wheel to the final consumers; and then the network operational capability shows the actual amount of power consumers can get “per time from the industry through the Distribution Companies”.
It was observed that while the generation from day to day fluctuates easily (making it difficult to evaluate progress based on a day’s figures), other data hardly changed over the years. The national demand forecast which was 14,630MW in 2014, was revised to 17,720MW in March 2016, 19,100MW in February 2017, 22,900MW in October 2018, and then 23,000MW the following month.
Installed generation capacity and available capacity, which initially were 11,165MW and 7,139MW respectively, remained the same over the years, but increased to 12,910MW and 7,652MW in the last week of January.
Network operational capability which has always been 5,500MW increased to 6,500MW in October, 2018, and then 7,500MW in January. In the same period, current transmission capability suddenly rose from 7,000MW to 7,500MW, and then 8,100MW.
The ICIR mined the reports for 60 days, mostly for the first day of each month from April 2014 to January 2019, and observed the trend in actual energy generation under the governments of both the People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress.
On May 29, 2015, when Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as President, the average power generation was 2,948MW (with 3,155MW as the peak generation and 2,741MW as the lowest). On the other hand, on Monday, January 28 (under this administration), the average amount of power generated was 4,056MW, having an increment of 1,108MW compared to what was handed over by the previous government.
Also while 3,313MW is the average energy generated for the 13 months of PDP for which data is available, under the present administration the figure has risen to 3,727MW — a difference of 414MW.
The peak generation ever attained has also increased under the present administration. It was 4,517MW in 2015 when APC came to power but has gradually increased to 5,222MW since December 2017. This, in other words, means that generation has never been up to 7,000MW as claimed in some quarters.
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The claim of the PDP that “power generation has actually dipped from 4,949 MW in 2015 to less than 3,500 MW” is false. The average power generated as at May 29, 2015, stood at 2,948 MW, while the average electricity generated as at 2018 by the current administration was 3,313 MW.
Today, these figures have increased to 4,056 MW and 3,727 MW, respectively — a difference of 1,108 MW and 414 MW.
Improvements have also been recorded in the country’s installed generation capacity (from 11,165 megawatts to 12,910 megawatts), available capacity (from 7,139 megawatts to 7,652 megawatts), network operational capability (from 5,500 megawatts to 7,500 megawatts), and transmission wheeling capacity (from 7,000 megawatts to 8,100 megawatts).
It is also not true, as claimed by the APC government and the party’s loyalists, that power generation has increased to 7,000 megawatts. The highest that has ever been recorded is 5,222 megawatts, and even this has not been sustained.