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Posted by on Wednesday May 27, 2015 at 15:58:53:

While we were growing up in the 80s, one of the things I normally used to hear anything they bring light(electricity) is "up NEPA" while when they take light is "oH NEPA". Many people in Nigeria grew up knowing NEPA as the only main provider of electricity and it's a popular word or name on the mouth of anyone born before the year 2000. NEPA shares a similar sound to the word "leper" when pronounced by Nigerians but without the ending "r" sound.

NEPA is actually an acronym for National Electric Power Authority and it was a public company mostly owned and operated by the government as a public organisation. NEPA's main aim was to provide electricity to every home in Nigeria but while NEPA increased their capacity to generate electricity at snail speed, the demand for the utility far outmatched supply to many growing cities in Nigeria and the subsequent mismanagement and non profitability of the company forced the government to gradually hands off the company by privatizing it and also renaming it to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria(PHCN). Despite the name change, many Nigerians still easily refer to the power company as NEPA.

Never Expect Power Always is another name Nigerians have referred to as the meaning of NEPA just to point out the fact that the company has never been efficient in supplying power to meet the needs of households.

In Nigeria, electricity supply has really been epileptic as demand has never really been matched by the power company since the 1990s during both the military and civilian rule although they've been several promises by politicians to solve the lingering problem. Gradually, however, the government is trying to totally hands off the sector into private hands so that it would be able to run independently as a profitable social business. There have also been steps to diversify the power generation sources from just hydro-powered plants to other sources such as solar and wind power.

The PHCN(formerly NEPA) has made some giant strides as they've become broken into smaller companies and have also increased their power generation capabilities although this has not equally matched the sporadic growth of electricity demand by modern day Nigerians who use electricity for a lot more things than they did in the 1980s. Nowadays, the modern day Nigerian requires electricity for things like a microwave, washing machine, hair clipper, hot water baths and for pressing irons. In the past, they only needed electricity for a smaller number of electronics such as radios, tvs and light bulbs. There are still many regions in Nigeria where electric power cables are yet to reach and many people there still depend on natural sunlight to see during the day, use manual pumps for pumping water and few rich ones make use of power generators when necessary to power their homes.

As a result of the inefficiency of the power company or NEPA in Nigeria, the country has become a profitable destination for generator manufacturers as a lot of power generators being used in Nigeria is imported since the country doesn't have industries for producing it. This has only made poor people poorer and importers richer while gradually killing the exchange rate of the Nigerian Naira.

Nowadays, customers of NEPA now have a fairer way of getting billed for the electric services they received unlike was the case in the past. In the past, customers of NEPA were billed based on estimated billing meaning since they made use of post paid meter billing system in which readings were not checked but bills were brought based on estimated rates. This made both people who had power an those who experienced a blackout to pay the same bill. Nowadays, there is a prepaid billing system in place as prepaid meters are used which only work when electricity credit has been purchased and loaded on them in form of PINs just as the case with mobile phone airtime recharge. It's also a more easy way for customers to actually know how much power they are consuming per month and also document how much power NEPA is really supplying to customers in Nigeria.

NEPA has had their ups and downs as there has been times when they generated and provided more electricity than normal and they've been times when they went offline without any apologies to the Nigerian people. Some of the reasons why they've not been so efficient includes the fact that they are a monopoly, had insufficient funds, not totally privatized, not using new technology, had fuel shortages, affected by oil pipeline vandals and so on. They have indeed made some effort but I think it's best to make the power sector more competitive by inviting more foreign investors looking for where to put their money in Africa.

NEPA has been instrumental in helping a lot of Nigerians have access to electrical power for without them, many homes may not have had light for many decades. There were not many investors or companies in the past who were willing and had the capacity to invest in the power sector when Nigeria was growing as a young nation and so it required the power of a federal government to help in this sector. Now the sector has grown and there are already foreign interests and investors who are readily willing to sell electricity to Nigerians. The Chinese, Russians and Americans are all interested in having power plants in Nigeria as long as it would be profitable for them and it seems that the future is bright for Nigeria.

NEPA may not have been the best public company now gone private to provide electricity in Nigeria but they really made a huge effort which requires a commendation from all lovers of Nigeria. Be a Naijaholic.

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