“One of the targets is to have on-grid transmission and distribution that will create 130 million new connections; that is why the Bank is working towards ensuring that TCN is not the weakest link in the value chain.”
Ify Emelife is the coordinator of the Nigeria Energy Sector portfolio at the African Development Bank’s Nigeria Country Department. At the upcoming Future Energy Nigeria, she is part of a panel discussion on the Revival of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN)’s concession plans.
Let’s start with some background on the work that you do at the African Development Bank in Nigeria.
As the coordinator of the Nigeria Energy Sector portfolio at the African Development Bank’s Nigeria Country Department, I am the principal point of contact for all energy sector related matters and activities in Nigeria. I lead efforts related to the expansion of the Nigeria energy pipeline and manage the operations process around project preparation and development. Likewise, the Bank is part of the current sector reform process where we work closely with the Government to ensure the on-going reforms are sustainable and policies and regulations to back up these reforms are in place. In addition, I ensure close collaboration with other donor partners to create co-financing opportunities.
Any exciting projects in the power sector that you are currently involved in that you can share?
Across the value chain, there are a number of exciting projects still at early stages of development. For instance, we are working with the Federal Government to come up with a financing vehicle that will solve the metering gap in Nigeria as well as supporting the Government’s efforts to develop a 1GW solar park in Northern Nigeria similar to the Moroccan Noor Solar Park. We also have an exciting initiative where with a partner we will be sponsoring a $100 million fund targeted at SMEs who provide renewable power to rural areas thereby increasing access to energy.
What in your view are the main challenges in the power sector in Nigeria right now?
The main challenges are around sustainability of the sector.
First, as long as we do not have cost reflective tariffs, most of the challenges in the sector will still be there.
Second, the DISCOs who are the revenue collectors for the value chain are faced with a lot of challenges from being overcapitalised, to no access to financing, to penalties charged them by NBET for unpaid energy invoices.
Third, the capacity of TCN to stabilise the grid and improve wheeling power
And with regards to transmission in particular?
Challenges facing TCN are mainly around insufficient funding and capacity to execute projects. The company is currently undergoing a number of transformational institutional changes to improve its credibility so support to its activities especially from the donor community can flow. However, a number of interferences from different interest groups still affect its effectiveness and delivery.
What is your vision for the industry?
That the industry will get to a stage where government participation in the sector is completely on regulation while private investments are attracted owing to the enabling environment.
What is your advice to a prospective investor in the power sector in West Africa?
The sector is still undergoing transition with a lot of learning along the way. For those risk averse, be patient. For the risk taker, now is the time to find opportunities.
At Future Energy Nigeria, you are part of a panel discussion on the Revival of the TCN’s concession plans – what will be your message at the event?
The Bank through its New Deal on Energy for Africa has the aspirational goal of achieving universal access by 2025. One of the targets under this initiative is to have on-grid transmission and distribution that will create 130 million new connections; that is why the Bank is working towards ensuring that TCN is not the weakest link in the value chain. To this end, the Bank is supporting some of TCN’s projects in the northern corridor of the country.
Anything you would like to add?
It is important to note that the Bank’s strategy for development in Africa is couched around what we call the “high fives”. They are: 1. Light & Power Africa, 2. Feed Africa, 3. Industrialise Africa, 4. Integrate Africa and 5. Improve the standard of living of Africans. So in delivering its mandate to foster economic growth and reduce poverty, the first high five is of paramount importance to both the Bank and the country.
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