Nigeria Table of Contents
Hydroelectric power furnished about 14 percent of the energy consumed by Nigerians in the 1980s. Total energy used in the form of electricity was considerably larger, however, because much of the energy provided by petroleum products and gas was converted into electricity. In 1990 most electricity was supplied by NEPA. This agency had been established in 1972 as a semiautonomous government activity through the merger of the Electric Corporation of Nigeria (ECN--created by the government in 1950 to generate and transmit power nationally) and the Niger Dam Authority (NDA--set up in 1962 to develop the economic potential of the Niger River). As part of its mandate, the NDA had constructed the Kainji Dam and an associated hydroelectric plant, which began operations in 1968. Until the late 1970s, the plant was the principal source of Nigeria's electrical power.
The demand for power grew at an average annual rate estimated at 15 to 20 percent after the start of the 1973-74 oil boom. NEPA's total generating plant, having an installed capacity of 881 megawatts in FY 1976--almost half of which was located at the Kainji hydroelectric plant--was unable to meet the rapidly growing requirement. By FY 1978 an additional 250 megawatts had been installed, of which 200 megawatts were at Kainji, but a drought in 1977 and 1978 significantly lowered the level of Kainji Reservoir and thus reduced the plant's output. During the drought, blackouts were frequent, verging on the catastrophic for major industrial establishments. Goods in the process of assembly had to be destroyed, and interruptions in machine operations substantially reduced productivity. The situation improved in the 1980s, with two 120-megawatt units added to the Kainji hydroelectric station, ten units of 120 megawatts each installed in Sapele, new hydroelectric stations built at Shiroro on the Kaduna River and Jebba downstream from Kainji Reservoir, and another 200 megawatts added at various smaller plants.
Power was distributed through a national grid that linked many of the large towns, some of which had been previously served by local diesel power stations. Yet the power sector, lacking spare parts, had neglected maintenance to the point that generating capacity was rapidly declining.
Data as of June 1991