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Equipment Failure Plunges Nigeria Into Darkness
Panafrican News Agency March 11, 2000
Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Most parts of oil-producing Nigeria were thrown into darkness Friday for what officials of the National Electric Power Electric Authority (NEPA) blamed on system failure.
It was the second time in four years that the country was witnessing such a blackout, after that of 1996, also blamed on a similar fault. Friday's blackout affected even Abuja, the nation's federal capital, which normally enjoys more regular supply than other parts of the populous nation.
Lagos, the country's economic hub, was hardest hit, with most parts of the sprawling and overcrowded city, going without electric supply for weeks.
Nigeria, a nation with an estimated population of 120 million has a total installed power generation capacity of nearly 6,000 megawatts, but the state of the facilities had degenerated to the level where they only manage to produce about 2,600 megawatts of electricity.
This has created sharp shortfalls, resulting into power rationing.
NEPA officials blame the situation mainly on ageing and unserviceable equipment, with statistics from the hydro and thermal stations showing that most of the turbine units had packed up, requiring intensive overhaul or outright replacement.
The inefficiency of NEPA is legendary, such that Nigerians lampoon its acronym as 'Never Expect Power Always'. The facility has been earmarked for privatisation.
Hope was raised when shortly after his assumption of office last year, power and steel minister Bola Ige, promised to improve power supply in the country.
But the deplorable condition has persisted, with Nigerians sentenced at best to erratic power supply or total darkness most of the time.
The problem impacts negatively on the economy by raising cost of production.
-- - (email@example.com), March 13, 2000