TCN to force Togo, Benin, Niger to pay N29.97bn debts

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Republics of Togo, Benin and Niger will be compelled to pay the outstanding debts owed to Nigeria for electricity supplied to them, the Managing Director of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Mr Usman Mohammed, has said.

Economic Confidential had reported on March 17, 2020 that the countries owed Nigeria a total of N29.97bn for the electricity supplied to them from January to September 2019, citing data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Mohammed, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, said the debts owed by the countries dropped significantly last year following the disconnection of power supply to Benin and Togo in October.

He said, “The Transmission Company of Nigeria is no longer buying and selling electricity. We held a meeting with Benin and Togo in early 2019 and we discussed the outstanding debts.

“So, when it reached a point that they were defaulting around October last year, we disconnected them. On the basis of that, they paid. We are going to compel them to pay us what is remaining.”

According to him, the amount of electricity being sold to the international customers is around 300 megawatts.

The average energy sent out on March 24, 2020 in the country fell by 642.8MW to 3,345MWh/hour, the Advisory Power Team in the office of the Vice President said.

It said a total of 5,128.2MW was not generated due to lack of gas (3,934.5MW) and high frequency occasioned by unavailability of distribution infrastructure (1,193.7MW).

“We have excess generation of more than 2,000MW that is not being taken by the distribution companies. From time to time, we have some other challenges, for example, gas supply challenge.” Mohammed said.

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He said the gas supply challenge was usually caused by the delay in payments to gas suppliers.

“The intention is to ensure that we expand our network, serve Nigeria and at the same time sell as many megawatts of electricity as possible to the neighbouring countries because it is business. It is actually a means of diversifying Nigerian economy,” he added.

According to the TCN boss, Togo is being supplied electricity by Calabar Power Plant; Benin by Paras Energy & Natural Resources Development Limited; and Niger by Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited.

“So, it is their duty to collect the money including the service charge of the TCN. It is no more government to government; it is now private sector. This is consistent with the ECOWAS electricity market that was launched in 2018,” he said.

Mohammed said the agreement to sell electricity to Niger was reached to prevent the country from damming the River Niger, from which two of Nigeria’s hydropower plants get water supply.

Kainji and Jebba power stations, which were acquired by Mainstream Energy Solutions during the privatisation of the power sector in 2013, draw water from the River Niger to generate electricity.