Nigeria's National Power Grid Collapses, Plunging Parts of Country Into Blackout

Nigeria's national power grid experienced a full system collapse on Wednesday morning, resulting in blackouts across several parts of the nation.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said Wednesday that the country's national grid experienced a breakdown, The Guardian Nigeria reported. The company confirmed the outage through a statement by its General Manager of Public Affairs, Mrs. Ndidi Mbah.

"The TCN hereby states that at about 11.01 a.m today, May 12, 2021, there was a total system collapse of the grid, as a result of voltage collapse at some parts of the grid," Mbah said in the statement, according to the media outlet.

"TCN commenced grid recovery immediately after the collapse, from Shiroro Generating Station to Katampe TS, Abuja through the Shiroro – Katampe line at 11:29 a.m. and also through Delta Generating Station to Benin Transmission Substation and has reached Osogbo and parts of Lagos."

The TCN added that it will investigate the cause of the voltage collapse, and "appeals for patience as it works assiduously to ensure full restoration of the grid and consequently power supply to the remaining parts of the country," Mbah added.

Two other electricity distribution companies in Nigeria acknowledged the collapse on Wednesday while apologizing to consumers who may have experienced blackouts,The Independent reported.

"We regret to inform you that the power outage currently being experienced across our franchise – Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states – is as a result of the collapse of the national grid," Kaduna Electric said on Twitter, according to the news outlet.

In a similar message, Eko Electricity Distribution Company Plc addressed to consumers: "Dear customer, there is a partial system collapse on the national grid. Our TCN partners are working to restore supply immediately. Please bear with us."

Nigeria power outage
Nigeria's power grid experienced a "total system collapse" on Wednesday, plunging several areas into darkness. Here, a woman is seen selling food in the night while wearing a headlamp in the Moduganari area of Maiduguri, on February 1, 2021. Residents of the northeast Nigerian city Maiduguri had been struggling with a power blackout for a week after jihadists blew up supply lines, causing water shortages and disrupting businesses and daily life. AUDU MARTE/AFP/Getty Images

Wednesday's system collapse is not the first time Nigeria has been plagued with poor electricity issues. According to a 2020 report by The Guardian Nigeria, data from the TCN shows that from 2013 to 2020, the government-run national grid system failed 84 times and partially collapsed 43 times.

Just last month, the nation suffered extensive power outages after 18 power plants faced operational issues, according to the Premium Times. The TCN has often been criticized for its outdated analog system and poor maintenance.

For years, the country of over 200 million people has only been dispatching about 4,500 megawatts of its 13,000 megawatt installed capacity due to such insufficiencies, Bloomberg reported.

However, last month, Lagos' government announced a plan to establish its own electricity market, while transitioning energy supply away from government control and into the private sector.

State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources Olalere Odusote said that the goal is for generation, transmission and distribution functions to "be owned and operated substantially by the private sector," to ensure a more reliable power supply, according to Bloomberg.

Odusote added that inadequate energy supply and power failures in Lagos is the "single biggest infrastructure and developmental challenge" in the nation's largest city.

Newsweek contacted the TCN for additional comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.