Can Nigeria Solve its Energy Crisis Alone?

Nigeria is facing what many consider to be an ‘energy crisis’. This is an issue that has been growing for years and is increasingly becoming a larger issue with time. Nigeria is currently Africa’s most populated country, with nearly 200 million people. According to a Nigerian Energy Policy report, it is estimated that only 40% of the population is connected to the power grid, and that this 40% is actually only connected about 60% of the time. Simply put, there isn’t enough electricity for the current population, meaning this energy crisis will only continue to grow as the population increases at a rapid rate.

The Nigerian Electric Power Authority (NEPA), has operated as a government-controlled monopoly over the Nigerian power grid since 1982, after its establishment from a government-sponsored merger. Analysts have long expressed the need and room for improvement when discussing NEPA’s management and performance. The Nigerian government has recognized the need for more electricity, however there is an extreme difficulty in funding and organizing this reform. In an attempt to revise the current Nigerian power grid and the issues within it, NEPA is aiming to create a multi-actor landscape in a privatized market to fund the necessary changes.

However, NEPA’s focus on privatization has led to a paradox created by public opinion in Nigeria. The general population has outwardly expressed their opposition towards the shift to a privatized energy sector, concerned about the possibility that economic incentives will influence important decisions. Since the Nigerian government can only develop the necessary infrastructure with investments or the help of the private sector, this is where the U.S. can get involved with foreign investments. Nigeria is the United States’ most important ally in Sub- Saharan Africa, meaning that if Nigeria has an underpowered economy due to its energy crisis, it could cause serious security implications for both states. It has been suggested that the United States should partner with Nigeria, to help fund the restructuring of their failing power grid in order to ensure stability. The US recognized the need for change in Nigeria’s power grid, and in 2013 launched ‘Power Africa’, a multi-actor initiative to improve the need for electrification in Africa.

Power Africa has proven to be a rational medium to close agreements to reach the goal of increasing the power supplied to Nigerians. However, the project isn’t large enough to the scale that is currently needed in order to meet the necessary goals. Foreign investment initiatives such as this need to come from the collateral assistance of multiple states backing this effort with the US; although the US may have the funds to take on this endeavour alone, it would be a much stronger initiative if this project wasn’t reliant on one sole global power. That being said, the current Power Africa project is not able to keep pace with aiding in the amount of electricity that is needed; should the current program continue, its priorities and performance need to be re-established in order best help Nigeria meet its economic potential and lessen the severity of the energy crisis, while also serving US interests.

Chloe Sterrett

References

Kennedy-Darling, J., Hoyt, N., Murao, K., & Ross, A. (2015). The Energy Crisis of Nigeria An Overview and Implications for the Future. The University of Chicago, 1, 1–28. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004

Moss, T., & Devermont, J. (2018, September 27). Can Nigeria Solve Its Energy Crisis Retrieved March 21, 2019, from <www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/africa/2018-09- 25/can-nigeria-solve-its-energy-crisis>.

Photo by Temitayo Aina on Unsplash

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