Nigeria’s electricity problems are well documented, a vast majority of the country lack adequate access to adequate power supply and the various stakeholders who invest in power generation and distribution are struggling to stay in business due to the liquidity crisis in the power sector.
With this in mind, it is easy to question why a country blessed with so much Natural resource does not focus its efforts on harnessing its renewable energy potential.
Two years ago Bloomberg New Energy Finance attempted a renewable energy project across Africa, this included countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa. However, Nigeria was noticeably left out leaving many surprised. A reason was never really given for the exclusion but ever since such investors started exploring the renewable energy field in Africa, small scale renewable energy projects have been actualised in other African countries. A classic example is the first utility-scale solar farm in Sub-Saharan Africa which was the 8.5MW plant at Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. The plant uses 28,360 Photovoltaic panels and produces 6% of total electrical supply of the country.
We have repeatedly stuck to our fossil fuel and gas powered plants to solve our ever growing need for power and not only are these resources quickly depleting, the current ups and downs in the oil and gas sector continues to make it nearly impossible to forecast and make any meaningful plans and strategies to improve the power sector going forward. These culminating in constant tariff changes as the MYTO scheme struggles to keep up with the changing econonic climate.
The irony of this tale is that, if the news is anything to go by, Nigeria is apparently veering towards renewable energy but if the current failings in the power sector is anything to go by we can be sure that this is once again a classic case of plenty talk, very little action. We have lived through the vision 2010 of promised steady supply of power and now we await the vision 2020 – which all know is just another fallacy perpetuated to keep hopes up.
Policies have continued to fail us in this part of the world and as long as we continue to put up with policies – like the ones that support gas flaring over harnessing we will continue to speculate and not achieve.
Nigeria and Africa’s renewable potential are well documented. Reports from the NIMET’s info sheet in 2015 shows that Nigeria is endowed with an annual daily sunshine that is averagely 6.25 hours, which is ranging between about 3.5 hours at the coastal areas of the northern boundary of the nations and also has an annual average daily solar radiation of about 3.5 KWm2/day in the coastal area which is in the southern part and 7.0 KWm2/ day at the northern boundary.
Nigeria receives about 4909.212 kWh of energy from the sun which is equivalent to about 1.082 million tonnes of oil; this is about 4000 times the current crude oil production per day, and also put at about 13 thousand times of daily natural gas production based on energy unit.
Nigeria has no excuse to not be leading renewable energy alternatives in Africa and as such Long-term investments in renewable energies like solar and wind have the potential to contribute significantly to the electricity deficiency.
The theoretical framework of the energy policy outlined by the Nigerian government seems promising, but once again there is a discontinuity, however, between implementation and theory.
If only the Nigerian public possessed the much-needed influence that will compel the government to formulate decisive policies and initiatives that will enhance and promote the application, development, dissemination and diffusion of renewable energy technologies and resources in the Power Sector.
It isn’t all gloom, however, while the Government and stake-holders lack the commitment to the renewable energy course, other smaller scale industry players such as Lumos are slowly starting to solve Nigeria’s power problem with their collaboration with MTN on their mobile electricity solution. We only hope sooner rathher than later, the policy makers can observe such suucessful adoption of renewable energy solutions and begin to act accordingly.