by Nour Bundogji
For many years now, Nigeria has been facing an extreme electricity shortage. Why? Well let’s look at Nigeria by the numbers. Overall, Nigeria consumes 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. Additionally, Nigerians spend, on average, ten dollars a week for a grid of electricity regardless of whether their grid works or not. Lastly, Nigeria spends $5 billion a year on fuel to generate electricity leaving about two thirds of Nigerians with no access to electricity (which is more people without electricity than any other country in the world except for India). Kennedy-Darling and her colleagues at University of Chicago reason that these energy deficits are a result of financial and structural problems in Nigeria’s current energy system. These problems demonstrate a ripple effect where the decreased efficiency of the energy producing capacity in Nigeria (a structural problem) leads to low productivity, excessive debts, and high fixed costs associated with power (financial problems) (Mohammad, 2007).
To put into perspective, modern technology, which Nigeria does not have access to yet, allows for 40% of the energy consumed in thermal plans to be converted to electrical energy. However, in Nigeria only 12% of energy is converted (Sambo, 2005).
In a recent article posted on DW, Damon van der Linde and Johan Demarle noted that some residents are now seeking alternative solutions to the country’s ongoing crisis. For instance, these past few years there have been a series of expos on alternative energy in an effort to explore the possibilities of renewable energy in Nigeria. As a result of these expos, foreign companies like Lumentech, a solar panel company form South Africa, took interest in Nigeria as possible country for investment. Pieter Joubert, the production manager at Lumentech, is looking for ways to expand into other African countries and he said, “It’s a very, very big market and that is why we’re expanding and hopefully we can improve people’s lives right through Africa.” With these foreign invests Nigerians are now able to take advantage of what renewable energy has to offer. One Nigerian shopkeeper purchased a $50 solar panel from Lumentech claiming that he is “no loner spending any money on energy, but instead on what to cook.” This got many of his fellow neighbors interested increasing the demand for more renewable energy sources. Thus, the Nigerian government started a renewable energy program that would allow its citizens access to renewable energy sources like solar panels. Unfortunately, there has been some opposition from local investors toward funding this program since “those with the financial capability to do so have invested a lot of money on generators…so renewable energy is a threat to their business” says Larry Edeh the organizer of The Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo. Nonetheless, foreign investments from renewable energy companies have helped in decreasing this power crisis in Nigeria. I just hope that local investors see promise in this cause soon since the need for sustainable and reliable energy will only increase.
Demarle J. and Linde D. 2015. Nigerians turn to renewable energy as solution to power crisis. European Journalism Centre. Jan 27, 2015.
Sambo, A. S. “Renewable Energy for Rural Development: The Nigerian Perspective”. ISESCO Science and Technology Vision 1 (May 2005): 12-22.
Mohammed, K. “Why Electricity in Country Is in Unhappy Condition (1)”. Africa News. 3 December 2007. Lexis Nexis Academic.
Kennedy-Darling, J. Hoyt, N. Murao, K. Ross, A. The Energy Crisis of Nigeria An Overview and Implications for the Future. The University of Chicago. June 2008.