…Niger, Togo, Benin owe Nigeria $81.48bn

Reports show that while many homes in Nigeria stay many months without electricity, and businesses are steadily going down due to lack of power, Nigeria has continued to play Africa’s Big Brother with a number of countries purchasing electricity power on credit and refusing to pay.

Three neighbouring countries, Niger, Benin and Togo, are reportedly yet to redeem $81.48 billion representing total amount of electricity purchased from Nigeria in the last two years. Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) records show that the invoices given to the Republics of Togo, Niger and Benin for the electricity supplied to them from Nigeria in 2018 and 2019, totaling $81.48 billion, are yet to be redeemed.

The NERC quarterly report showed that Niger bought electricity worth $26.03 billion in the two-year period, while Togo and Benin imported $55.45 billion worth of electricity from Nigeria during the same period. Power generation in the Nigeria has hovered between 3,000 megawatts and 4,500MW in the past few years, despite the privatisation of the sector in 2013.

The national grid is said to have continued to suffer system collapse over the years following lack of spinning reserve that is meant to forestall such occurrences. NERC sources said the number of total grid collapse recorded between November 1, 2013 and May 2020, was 83 while the grid partially collapsed 25 times.

Nigeria sells electricity through some private power plants to the selected neighbouring countries, which are classified as international customers. The reports say that Niger’s power firm, Societe Nigerienne d’electricite, received a total invoice of N3.01 billion for electricity supply from Nigeria in the first quarter of 2019; N3.69 billion in Q2; N4.1 billion in Q3; and N2.07 billion in Q4.

The report stated further that in 2018, NIGELEC received an invoice of $2.89 billion in Q1; $3.56 billion in Q2; $3.63 billion in Q3: and $3.08 billion in Q4. Another firm, Communaute Electrique du Benin, owned by Togo and Benin, received a total invoice of N9.74 billion for the power supplied to it in Q1; N7.16 billion in Q2; and N2.27 billion in Q3 but none in Q4.
In 2018, another firm, CEB, received an invoice of $9.04 billion in Q1; $9.44 billion in Q2; $8.48 billion in Q3; and $9.32 billion in Q4.

NERC reported that the international customers did not make any payments in each of the four quarters of 2019. “During the quarter under review, the special and international class of customers made no payment to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc and the Market Operator,” NERC said in its fourth-quarter report.

NERC however said that the Nigerian government has continued to engage the international companies involved, and calling for timely payments for the electricity purchased, but the countries have continued to renege.

By Chibisi Ohakah, Abuja

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