FirstPower has a most perplexing problem for a Nigerian business: too much electricity. In a country with an enormous power deficit, where grid power is only available for a few hours each day, its 14 megawatt power plant in Ijora, an industrial hub in Lagos, has been ready since early 2015. It cannot be brought online because the local Distribution Company (Disco) – the regional government granted monopoly – has no incentive to “play ball”.
Despite the recent privatization of Nigeria’s power sector, the electricity industry has not been deregulated. Rather, the old state distribution behemoth was carved into “Nigeria’s 11 primary Discos [which] are monopolies,” as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) admits. As a result, competing private plants are routinely denied permission to distribute by the NERC.