Lights up Nigeria!

Blessing Amaechi Written by Blessing Amaechi · 1 min read >

Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of oil and gas but struggles to meet its energy demand, a struggle that has persisted for many decades. Over the years, the average Nigerian has been made to stay in darkness due to the epileptic or non-availability of electricity. We have experienced complete blackouts with the Nigeria national electricity grid collapsing more than 200 times in the last nine years. This is not helped by the fact that Nigeria with a population of over 200 million people can only generate slightly above 5,000 megawatts. In the contrast, South Africa with a population of about 60 million has a total domestic electricity generation of over 58,000 megawatts.

Nigeria has the potential to generate 12,522 megawatts of electric power from existing plants. However, the country only manages to dispatch about 4,500 megawatts of its installed capacity mostly from thermal and hydropower sources with gas being the main generating source. This is a far cry from what is required in Africa’s most populous nation. According to World Bank estimates, only 47% of Nigerians have access to electricity when it is available.

To improve the power situation in Nigeria, the government has taken several steps across the power generation value chain. This includes the introduction of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in 2005, the unbundling of power assets, and the implementation of the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP). The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was unbundled into eleven electricity distribution companies (DisCos), six generating companies (GenCos), and a transmission company (TCN). While the DisCos and GenCos are privately owned/co-owned, the transmission company remains solely under government ownership. In 2018, Meter Assets Provider (MAP) was introduced by NERC to encourage the development of independent and competitive meter services and eliminate estimated billing practices.

Unfortunately, with all these steps taken by the government, there seems to be no improvement in electricity available to the masses. Rather, it gets worse by the day. The national grid has collapsed severally times already in 2022 due to widespread blackouts. Businesses and households are forced to use petrol and diesel generator sets to generate electricity to meet their daily needs. This results in huge economic and social costs to the Nigerian populace. Not to mention the noise pollution and health risks associated with the emission of inefficient gasoline from the use of these generators. According to a report on ‘Investment Climate and Exceptions to National Treatment’ launched by the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) recently in Abuja, it is estimated that electricity generator sets in Nigeria consume about $22 billion worth of fuel annually excluding the costs of purchasing and maintaining these generators.

With an increasing population, Nigeria needs to double its efforts in providing improved access and provide improved access and electricity to its masses, especially towards infrastructure and providing enabling environment for domestic and foreign private sector participation. Government should ensure we have optimally electricity generation through upgrading & increasing transformer capacity, better revenue collection on prepaid meters, and exploring other renewable sources of electric power like solar, wind, and biomass technologies.

The supply of adequate and stable electricity to consumers is the backbone of the socio-economic growth of any nation and Nigeria is not an exception. We should not be left behind. Therefore, our government needs to light up Nigeria as soon as possible…

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