wpid-Goodluck-Jonathan-nigeria-president-pensive-480x319.jpgBy idowu oyebanjo

What A Distribution Company (Disco) In Nigeria Should Do


While the nation remains in darkness due to lack of gas to power stations and the myriads of problems bedevilling the nation’s power sector, it may still be possible for operators to carry out crucial activities without incurring much cost to themselves.

New owners of the electrical network need to ascertain the true value of the Assets purchased. They need to identify where the Assets are as they get ready to embark on a huge investment, that methinks will amount to rebuilding the entire network. It is therefore imperative for DISCOs to determine the required financial and investment model that will yield maximum return on investment within the short and medium term.Accurate data gathering will be a good start. Knowing where the Assets are as well as their health indices will suffice. It is important for DISCOs to have some form of electronic mapping of acquired data to provide a geographic information system of the electricity network in their domain. An aggressive approach in this area will require partnering with relevant organisations to also provide location map information such as post codes or addresses of assets and customers in their licence areas. This will facilitate network operation and customer liaison going forward. In addition, an electrical model of the network has to be linked to the appropriate geographical information system to enable network modelling and analysis such as Load Flow, Stability, Voltage control, Harmonics,Short-Circuit, Protection co-ordination and grading studies to mention but a few.

The most important Asset that needs stock taking is human capital. Recruitment of ex-PHCN staff and other employees means there will be need for manpower training and development.Training may be provided in-house or externally by reputable organizations that have proven record of knowledge of Power Systems. Depending on the financial model, DISCOs may have to look at their company structure and identify the different roles and positions to be filled. Then, the job descriptions and role requirements for technical and non-technical personnel would have to be written for massive recruitment of workers. This may be handled by the company own Human Resources department or by reputable recruitment agencies affiliated to the Electricity Supply Industry. Effort must be made not to allow the kind of problem encountered in the Oil Industry to occur in the Power Industry where true knowledge became the prerogative of the IOCs.

DISCOs would find it most beneficial in the long-term to divide the electrical network area into units or districts with each district representing a separate managed unit within the organization. In such a case, the choice of location of district offices and plans to erect or buy property to that effect can proceed. In a similar vein, the day-to-day running of a modern electrical network is carried out from a central control room with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and communication infrastructure. This would be most beneficial in the long term as network automation would be required to improve quality of supply and reduction in the duration for which customers are off supply (customer minutes’ lost). There should be a main and a back-up Control centre. These locations have to be determined and equipped as needed.There is also the need to have a depot or central repository of stock items of daily requirements for the operation of the electrical network. This may be in the form of a centralised Store in addition to the stores in each district or managed unit. A customer contact or call centre is a must as the main reason for the privatisation exercise is to improve efficiency, performance, quality of service etc, all of which are linked to customer satisfaction.

Alot of advantages will result in developing company standards and policies governing the technical and non-technical matters of the company. Needless to say, this will evolve as the network develops but the quantum of savings in investment will be significant when companies standardise on their design and infrastructure development. This however needs to align with the National Standards and Policies on electrical power system infrastructure.In the mean time, DISCOs need to create and umbrella body that will look after technical matters relating to the development of the power network infrastructure in their behalf. The body will be able to align policies with international standards and ensure that items of plant specified for deployment on the power network are fit for purpose and not sub-standard. Also, such a body will carry out research into various matters that affect the distribution network in general which will allow the DISCOs to focus on customer service which is key.

One issue that requires urgent attention is the connection of distributed Generation to the distribution network. There are many issues, technical and non-technical, that result from the penetration of significant amount of embedded Generation in a DISCO’s licence area as this might have impact on revenue and this is a commercial issue. A more serious issue is that such connections, if they run in parallel with the distribution network, must be disconnected when there is a system fault on the distribution network otherwise, such generators will continue to feed the fault and kill people. This can be achieved using Loss of Mains protection such as ROCOF and Vector Shift relays. The distribution code should reflect this as a condition for the connection of such Generation. This will apply to Negris’ connection in Lagos, Lafarge/WAPCO, Geometric Power Limited’s in Aba and many others that will spring up!

There will be so much to do for those who understand Power System Planning, Operation Protection and Management.

If you need further information on how to implement these ideas and more, feel free to contact me via [email protected]


Idowu Oyebanjo is a Power System Engineer.


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