A nationwide power outage gripped Nigeria on Thursday as the country’s electrical grid succumbed to technical issues, according to reports from the nation’s electricity distribution companies.
The blackout had a sweeping impact, affecting all 36 states of Nigeria and the capital city, Abuja. With multiple grid collapses in recent times, it remained uncertain when power would be fully restored.
The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), responsible for supplying electricity to southeastern Nigeria, issued a statement announcing a “total system” collapse. Emeka Ezeh, spokesperson for the company, lamented, “Due to this development, we are unable to provide service to our customers.”
Frequent power failures have become a recurring issue in Nigeria, stemming from the country’s dilapidated energy infrastructure.
In response to the situation, the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, which supplies power to parts of northern Nigeria, issued a statement on Thursday, saying, “Power supply shall be restored as soon as the national grid is powered back.”
Despite being oil-rich, Nigeria faces energy shortages, generating an average of 4,000 megawatts of electricity daily—much of which cannot be effectively distributed—while its population exceeds 210 million. This is significantly below the 30,000 megawatts daily that authorities have deemed necessary.
The inadequate power supply leaves millions of residents dependent on gasoline-powered generators for electricity. However, gasoline prices have surged by more than double this year following the government’s decision to end decades-long subsidies, leaving many households and businesses struggling to secure alternative power sources.
Nigeria’s power grid has experienced several collapses recently, prompting concern and highlighting the urgent need for infrastructure improvements. Efforts are underway, with President Bola Tinubu pledging to boost supply by allowing state governments to establish their own power plants, aiming to stimulate economic growth in the country.
The Enugu Electricity Distribution Company PLC (EEDC) issued a statement, declaring a “total system collapse” at 12:40 a.m. on Thursday. The company’s Head of Corporate Communications, Emeka Ezeh, stated, “This has led to a loss of power supply across our entire network.”
Electricity Generation Companies (GenCos) pointed to various factors contributing to the frequent grid collapses. They cited the heavy and volatile load imposed by steel mills, aged and inadequate infrastructure maintained by the TCN, and the unavailability of key transmission lines.
Barr. Joy Ogaji, the executive secretary of the association of power generation companies, elaborated on these issues during an investigative hearing before the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee tasked with addressing the recurring national grid failures. She explained, “The grid collapses have been exacerbated because GenCos’ generators are being utilized to stabilize the grid, which contradicts the grid code. Furthermore, the grid frequently operates at a very high frequency, often exceeding 51 hertz.”
Ogaji continued, “One significant cause of grid collapses is the excessive volatile load, primarily from steel mills. The Nigerian network has more than 50 steel mills connected to the grid, drawing substantial power, ranging from 3 to 35 megawatts, in a continuous circuit that can last from 6 to 10 minutes.”
She also highlighted issues such as service interruptions due to the inability of Distribution Companies to manage the grid’s fluctuations, the fragility of the grid’s infrastructure, which lacks redundancy, and insufficient technical personnel in both transmission and distribution.
However, the Minister of State for Power, Godwin Jeddy-Agba, contested the claims of grid collapses, asserting that none had occurred in the current year.
Nigeria’s electricity distribution companies reported “a total system collapse” on Thursday, causing widespread blackouts across Africa’s biggest economy.
Power generation fell to zero in the early hours and had risen to 273 megawatts (MW) by 1030 GMT, still well below the daily average of 4,100 MW, data from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) showed.
TCN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Grid power supply is erratic in Nigeria, a major oil and gas producer, forcing households and businesses to use diesel and petrol generators.