The Way Forward for Electricity Supply in Nigeria

In a second article focusing on Africa’s big energy questions, Professor Abubakar Sambo, Chairman of the Nigeria National Committee of the World Energy Council, proposes a plan to secure a diversified and stable source of power for Africa’s largest economy, greatly enhancing the country’s ability to produce electricity for everyone from a wide range of energy sources.

At the time of inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari on May 29, the available electrical power in Nigeria was about 2,500 MW. But in less than six months it has almost doubled. The Nigerian Ministry of Power attributes this to enhanced supply of gas to the nation’s newly constructed gas power plants. Many Nigerians, however, believe that’s only part of the explanation. The new owners of the electricity generation and distribution entities that were part of the government monopoly before liberalization of the electricity industry had to sit up in view of the well-known no-nonsense disposition of the new president.

Nigeria’s National Population Commission reports there are 178.5 million people in the country. Electricity supply of 5,000 MW is grossly inadequate for that many Nigerians. Even though access to electricity is available to only to about 55 percent of the people, load-shedding for rationing electricity is widely practised all over the country — despite the big jump in the supply figure noted above.

Much more than 5,000 MW of electricity is required for the socio-economic growth of the nation. Energy planning experts using modern energy modeling tools estimate that for the Nigerian economy to grow at a rate of 10 percent the country’s electricity requirement by 2020 will be of the order of 30,000 MW, and by 2030 it will be 78,000 MW.

A greatly expanded electricity supply regime for Nigeria will require a detailed assessment of the recent privatization of the nation’s electricity —> Read More