By Bunmi Aduloju, NAPREP Fellow
Nigeria has fallen far behind the main internationally set target for energy access, to which it had itself been an active participant, a review has shown.
The country’s current quantum of electricity delivery and its near-term prospect of Universal Electrification, do not come anywhere close to the 2030 targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), set up by the United Nations, our review indicates.
17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were formulated bythe United Nations (UN) in 2015 to address the environmental, economic, political and social challenges facing the world.
Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) is a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.”Specifically, Sustainable Development Goal 7.1 calls for “universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy service.”
In the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Action Agenda, Nigeria’s implementation tool for the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7), the country has a goal to reduce share of the population living without electricity to about 10% and increase electricity generation to at least 32,000MW by 2030.
Let us consider the current figures.
Eighty Five Million people lack access to grid connection electricity in Nigeria, leaving 43% of the population without electricity access. The country, in effect, has the largest energy access deficit in the world. Nigeria’s 206Million people share an installed capacity of 12,555MW, but only about 4,000MW is distributed to Nigerians on most days by the seven generation companies (GenCos). On the other hand, South Africa and Egypt, whose economies are second and third largest to Nigeria’s, in Africa’s GDP ranking and with population of 59Million and 85Million respectively, have installed capacity of 58,095 MW. This is way higher than Nigeria’s installed capacity despite Nigeria’s larger population.
According to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in its 2020 second quarter report, Nigeria recorded 5, 316MW as the peak daily generation on the 20th of April, 2020. If on the 20th of April 2020, 5,316 MW was distributed to energy consumers, and 85million people do not have access to electricity, the remaining 121 million Nigerians got an average 44watts of electricity supply. Consequently, the average daily electricity supply that a random Nigerian has ever gotten is 44Watts.
This explains the constant power outages in the nation. Whole communities frequently bear the brunt of the nation’s power supply incapacities. In 2015, 444 communities spanning 18 local government areas reportedly lacked electricity in Edo State. Similarly, it was reported that residents of a particular Local Government Area in Ekiti State experienced total blackout for three years.
Because Nigerians are not always entitled to 24-hour power supply, many businesses, homes and offices have had to fall back on petrol and diesel back-up generators.
Nigeria ranks as one of the six top countries generating energy with back-up generators fuelled by high quantities of fossil fuel, according to the International Finance Corporation, World Bank Group in a report titled, The Dirty Footprint of the Broken Grid. Apart from the environmental degradation that ensues from the use of back-up generators, it poses outrageous health hazards to anyone who inhales its fumes, as its emission contains carbon monoxide. A handful of Nigerians have lost their lives to fossil-fuels powered generator fumes which could be averted if there is continual 24-hour power supply in the nation.
Early in the year, two undergraduates reportedly lost their lives after inhaling generator fumes.
Renewable Energy, the Future of Improved Energy Access
Renewable energy is top on the United Nation’s radar to provide widespread energy access to unreached communities, and it has proven to be a long-lasting solution to the electricity access problem in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa at large, as only 47.7% have access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Nigerian government insists that it is making efforts to provide electricity to provide direct support for rural electrification. As part of its Post-Covid National Economic Sustainability Plan, it proposed a Solar Home System (SHS) in 5Million homes which will serve about 25Million Nigerians in rural areas without access to the National Grid. This is a commendable approach to rural electrification.
Segun Adaju, President, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) and CEO, Consistent Energy Limited, speaks glowingly of the government’s efforts to deploy renewable energy in the nation’s power delivery said,
“Government has been part of the growth we have seen in renewable energy in the last three to five years through the rural electrification agency. There is now a 10 megawatts wind farm in the Kastina State. Also, Bayero University runs on solar now. Also, several hospitals are on solar, powered by the government.”
Renewable Energy to the Rescue
The generation capacity of renewable energy for power generation in Nigeria is relatively low, compared, again with South Africa and Egypt, the two economies with comparable GDP size to Nigeria.
These two countries each generates over 3,000MW of grid connected solar and wind power, whereas Nigeria generates less than 50MW from solar and wind technologies.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Nigeria’s generation capacity was 12,664 megawatts (MW) in 2017, of which 10,522 MW (83%) was from fossil fuels; 2,110 MW (17%) was from hydroelectricity; and 32 MW (1%) was from solar, wind, and biomass and waste.”
Since renewable energy will not dry up one day like fossil fuels, Nigeria should increase focus on developing the renewable energy sector for improved power generation. The increased contribution of renewable energy to the energy mix will allow for greater power generation.
China is a perfect illustration of a country that has harnessed its renewable energy potentials for electricity generation. China has the world’s largest hydropower capacity with 356GW in 2019. With this advantage, it tops as the world renewable energy generation producer.
Nigeria has water resources in the form of water falls and large rivers. With these natural potentials, hydropower serves as the most efficient renewable energy resource for power grid generation in the nation.
Nigeria’s 2015 National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEEP), aims to harness hydropower production to ensure sustainability. It aims to generate 12,801MV of power from hydropower in 2030 and generate 30% in the energy mix.
Similarly, in the Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP), there is a plan to increase renewable electricity supply to 36% by 2030.
If these targets are met, Nigeria would speed up its energy access by 2030. If not, Nigerians will continue to suffer from electricity deficiencies.
Another potential viable in the nation is solar. Solar energy has proven its ability to reach every nook and cranny of the country. It is safe to say that solar is the answer to the electricity access problem in the nation. Nigeria is blessed with abundant sunlight with about 2600hours of sunshine per year. Although Nigeria is increasing its prowess in this sector, the potentials are not fully harnessed.
Mr Segun Adaju urged the government to utilise the solar resources in Nigeria to solve the electricity access problem for rural communities.
“Solar power can be harnessed because of the country’s location. Instead of building massive power plants or grids, Nigeria should redeploy straight to distributed renewable energy like we have in the movement from telephones to mobile phones,” he admonished.
This story was produced under the NAREP Media Oil and Gas 2021 Fellowship of the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism.