Nigerians turn to renewable energy as solution to power crisis
Nigeria produces about 2.5 million barrels of oil each day, yet many of its citizens live without electricity. Some residents are now seeking alternative solutions to the country’s ongoing energy crisis.
Joseph Agesoji has to run his small generator so he can use the hair clippers at his barbershop. He lives in Mpape, a suburb of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.
Mpape is largely an informal settlement in the hills just outside the highway that circles the Federal Capital Territory. With a population estimated to be around 2 million, it has grown from a village to a city in a span of about 30 years.
Every month, Agesoji pays about 1,500 Naira, ($10 or just under 9 euros) for grid electricity. However, sometimes he goes for weeks without it working. “Even when they bring light for us, it doesn’t take much time before they take our light back,” he said.
Often Agesoji has to pay $10 a week for generator fuel whether he has customers or not, just to keep the lights on.
Billions to generate power
Nigerians spend almost $5 billion a year on fuel to generate their own electricity, this alone keeps many in poverty. “We are working here. Every time we buy fuel for our [generators]. Everybody who has a shop has a generator. Even in the night, we don’t have light,” said Agesoji.
About two thirds of people in Nigeria have no access to grid electricity. That’s more people without electricity than any other country in the world except India.
Some are now looking to renewable energies, such as solar as a way of transforming the country into one that gives people the power to thrive.
The Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo in Abuja has been held for the past four years in a row. It brings together local and international speakers, delegates and exhibitors to explore the possibilities for renewable energy in the country.
Stumbling blocks to renewable energy
Organizer Larry Edeh says he has felt some opposition to developing the industry because of those with an interest in keeping Nigerians buying generators and fuel.
“We’ve noticed that some key people are not so keen about investing in renewable energy because most of them have some investments. Some of their co-investors have invested a lot of money on generators,” said Edeh.