National Electric Power Authority

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The National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) was a Nigerian government corporation that acted as the virtual sole provider of electricity in the country for a long time. However, towards the mid 1990s, licenses were given to private power generating companies. The Federal Electric Power Reform Act of 2005 further deregulated the sector splitting NEPA and leading to the change of name from NEPA to the Power Holding Corporation of Nigeria.

The company's dominance of the power system in Nigeria started in 1972 with the merger of the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria and the Niger Dam Authority. However, the social reality of irregular power supply made it to be called "Never Expect Power Always" by many Nigerians.


Electricity Corporation of Nigeria

The electricity corporation of Nigeria (ECN), a precursor of NEPA was established as a statutory public corporation in 1951. The company took over power generation projects of the government which were carried out through the Public Works Department and from four native authorities. Between 1952/1953, the country generated 165.2 million kwh (165 mw) of power most of it provided by ECN. During the following decade, the firm went through an expansion period increasing transmission lines available in Southern Nigeria, this was largely due to the rise in urbanization and demand for electricity. By 1964, the company had added additional power plants including one at kano producing 6 megawatts of electricity and another at Ijora, Lagos producing 86.25 MW. It also opened new plants along the oji river (25.5mw) and afam (20). A western grid was created from lagos-Ibadan-Ilorin with extensions at Abeokuta, Oshogbo, Akure, Benin and Sapele while an Eastern grid extended from Afam-Port Harcourt-Aba and Onitsha-Enugu-Nsukka with additional extentions at Nsukka, Calabar and Umuahia.

From 1959-1962, the company recorded surpluses overcoming earlier deficits in finances.

In 1951, the corporation commissioned a feasibility survey for the creation of a dam along the Niger River. In 1962, the Niger Dam Authority was created as an autonomous entity and charged with the provision of hydro power. The Kainji Dam project subsequently followed, with construction starting in March, 1964.


Following the merger of the Niger Dam Authority with ECN creating NEPA, the new company had a diversified source of power generation including hydro plants, diesel powered plants, gas powered plants and coal. At the onset of the company, it provided relatively glitch free electricity for some years as most of its plants were generating power.

During the third national plan, NEPA expanded its generating capacity. However, as it was later witnessed, the expanded capacity could not provide for the increasing potential demand of electricity and developmental obligations in the steel, mining and fertilizer industries and towards the end of the 1980s, the agency went through technical under-performance.

Generating stations

The largest station of NEPA is located at Egbin, it was constructed by a Japanese firm, Marubeni and has a total installed capacity of 1320 megawatts. However, the total installed capacity was usually higher than the generating capacity.

The generating stations were nominally operated at the National Control Center in Oshogbo. Between 1985-1987, many of the company's older generating sets became faulty including four generating units at kainji and other units at Afam and ughelli resulting in a loss of over 1000 megawatts. Though, they were later repaired, disturbances in the grid system especially with gas fired plants continued.

  • Kainji, hydro - 760 MW
  • Sapele, Oil/gas turbine - 1,020 MW
  • Delta I -- 111, Gas turbine - 312 MW
  • Afam I -- III, Gas turbine - 250 MW
  • Ijora, Gas turbine - 60 MW
  • Afam, IV Gas turbine - 450 MW
  • Jebba, Hydro-electric - 578 MW
  • Shiroro, Hydro-electric - 600 MW
  • Egbin, Oil/gas turbine - 1,320 MW
  • Delta IV, 600 MW

Generation problems and criticism

For many years, especially towards the end of the Nigerian second republic, the company was plagued by frequent collapses in its transmission lines leading to instability in its grid system and power outages, it also had to battle with inefficiency in planning, management and maintenance and losses due to government debt and lack of proper pricing. The inability of the firm to guarantee constant power supply has been a bottleneck in the manufacturing sector where many firms resorted to providing for their own power infrastructures. (1) These problems also earned the company aliases such as Never Electric Power Again and No Electric Power Anytime.

By the end of the 1980s, the company, the company was only transmitting about half of its total installed capacity. NEPA had statutory obligations sometimes contradictory and were rarely met before its extinction. Originally designed to be a self financing company remitting dividends to its owner and to provide constant electricity to consumers and expand electricity provision to all local governments in Nigeria. Most of the financial and developmental goals were not met.


  • Alex Anas Kyu Sik Lee. INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT AND PRODUCTIVITY: The Case of Nigerian Manufacturing A Framework for Policy Study, Review of Urban & Regional Development Studies, Volume 1, Issue 2, Page 65-76, Jul 1989