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Nigeria loses $51.26 mln as Togo, Benin and Niger default on electricity payments

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A troubling trend of non-payment is jeopardizing Nigeria’s efforts to generate revenue from electricity exports to neighboring countries.

According to data released by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), international customers failed to remit about $51.26 million for electricity purchases in 2023.

This comes despite Nigeria’s struggles to meet domestic electricity demand. With an estimated 90 million citizens lacking access to the national grid, the nation exports power based on strategic agreements with Benin, Togo, and Niger.

The report highlights a pattern of delinquency, with none of the four international customers – Paras-SBEE, Transcorp-SBEE, Mainstream-NIGELEC, and Odukpani-CEET – making any payments in the first quarter of 2023.

The situation continued throughout the year, with minimal payments received from a single customer in the second quarter. By the third and fourth quarters, all international customers had defaulted entirely.

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Bilateral power consumers within Nigeria also displayed concerning payment behavior. While some payments were made, they fell far short of the total N7.61 billion ($19.7 million) owed for 2023.

NERC decried this “payment indiscipline” and urged the Market Operator, the arm of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN)responsible for electricity exports, to enforce market rules and curb these delinquencies.

The revelation sparked outrage from consumer rights groups. The National Secretary of the Nigeria Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network, Uket Obonga, questioned the logic of exporting a scarce resource while millions of Nigerians lack basic electricity access.

Obonga called for a reevaluation of this policy and a focus on addressing domestic needs first.

The financial losses from unpaid electricity bills threaten the viability of Nigeria’s export strategy.

The government must take decisive action to ensure timely payments from international customers and potentially re-evaluate its export priorities in light of domestic shortfalls.

(Edited by Oludare Mayowa; omayowa@globalfinancialdigest.com; Newsroom: +234 8033 964 138)

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