Key questions this article answers:

  1. The TCN comprises two sub-units, one of which is a pseudo-regulator. How is the TCN structured, and what is its function?

  2. There’s a consensus in the power sector that the TCN’s structure contributes to the inefficiency in the sector. What are the merits of unbundling the TCN?


Two weeks ago, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) disconnected parts of two distribution companies from the national grid (Kaduna and Kano discos), plunging millions of Nigerians into darkness for over five days.

The reason? Continued failure to adhere to the market rules on payment of invoices and posting bank guarantees.

You see, while you and I are customers of the discos, the discos are customers of the TCN. The TCN’s primary role is to transmit power from the gencos to the discos. It’s an essential player in the power sector that operates the transmission grid. However, the TCN also has some regulatory powers, allowing it to disconnect discos.

So, while disco staff, informally known as “NEPA” staff, come with their ladders and pliers to disconnect you for non-payment, the TCN can do the same to the discos.

Unfortunately, anything that affects the discos also affects us, the end-users.

So, what is the role and structure of the TCN? And is the company’s structure the best for Nigeria’s electricity sector?