Abubakar A. Nuhu-Koko of the Sokoto Energy Research Center (Energy Commission of Nigeria), Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, is a researcher in petroleum policy and economics, and founder and pioneer executive director, The Shehu Shagari World Institute for Leadership and Good Governance, Sokoto, Nigeria. He can be reached on +234 706 330 6887 or email@example.com
The solution to Nigeria’s electricity conundrum lies in renewable energy resources (sunshine, wind, biomass/bioenergy and river streams), which are abundantly available in almost all of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Over the past decades attempts were made by various governments, both military and civilian administrations, to solve the electricity supply deficits in Nigeria in order to meet the very growing need of energy supply, but without much tangible sustainable results after spending huge sums of money.
The challenge of chronic shortage of electric power in Nigeria due to poor performance of the public power sector resulted in privatising it in 2013 under the now defunct Nigeria Electric Power Sector Reform Act, NEPSRA (2005). It created a situation where more than 200 million Nigerians living in a country that has an installed electricity generation capacity of around 13,700 MW which in 2020, only around 4,500 MW of it were available to them due to gas and other infrastructure and technical constraints – in comparison to South Africa, with less than 100 million inhabitants – but which generates 51 GW.
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Nevertheless, Nigeria has come up with new energy and power policies and laws. One of which is the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEP) AND Vision 30:30:30 which calls for the installation of 30 Giga watt, by 2030 with a share of 30 percent renewables in addition to the latest Electricity Act 2023) which further devolved and decentralised electricity generation, distribution and regulation to subnational governments and private investors. Therefore, with these new enabling laws and policies harnessing of the nation’ bountiful renewable energy resources, utilising their potentials of energy efficiency, integrating renewables via mini grids and thus, scaling rural and suburban electrification targeted at the provision of reliable, affordable, and sustainable clean energy for the Nigerian people; especially provision of energy to disadvantaged parts of the population that have not had access to modern energy services, a pathway to success now looks clearer. The good news is that in addition to the new policies and enabling laws, the European Union and German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) are supporting the Nigerian government in this direction under their flagship jointly funded Nigerian Energy Support Programme (NESP) implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenabeit (GIZ) GMBH and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Power and other local partner institutions
In order to meet this demand, the consideration and implementation of interconnected off grid/mini-grids based on green renewable energy resources (which Nigeria offers in super abundance) as possible solution, is hereby proposed. The literature on the advantages of harnessing renewable energy resources for generation of utility grade electricity and energy is beyond review in this brief narrative. For instance, it has been established in the literature that cheap green energy from renewable energy resources can be produced and even exported to other countries if political and corruption and security challenges are eliminated. These challenges discourage foreign and local investors from pumping money into large scale interconnected grids relying on renewable energy resources and successfully tackling the challenges of bringing sustainable clean energy to Nigeria.
However, with the constitutional amendment that removed electricity generation, distribution and transmission from the Exclusive list to Concurrent list and with new Electricity Act (2023) that replaced the Nigeria electric power Sector Reform ACT, NEPSRA (2005), subnational governments can now be involved in generation, distribution and transmission of electricity but only within the state – for instance, each local government council can be tasked to generate at least 2.5 MW using solar energy or a combination of conventional and renewable energy resource across each state. They can equally establish their own independent electricity markets by establishing the necessary regulatory agencies and laws governing them.
It is against the above backdrop that some Nigerians are urging the subnational governments to take this opportunity to provide decentralised off grid electricity in their respective domains using for instance, solar photovoltaic mini premium grids which are innovative approaches for attracting public private investment to the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and delivering premium services (24/7) in ring-fenced areas and or under-served or unserved areas. Furthermore, the decentralised or unbundled mini grids are part of electricity distribution franchising projects developed in a manner of embedded generation or an additional generation source (mostly solar energy or small hydropower plants) which aim to deliver reliable 24/7 service. Hence, state governments and other willing private investors and key stakeholders need to actively participate and key into the implementation of the electricity Act (2023) for it to succeed. Doing this will improve the availability and reliability of electricity across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT and will greatly reduce Nigeria’s greenhouse gas emissions’ carbon footprint and accelerate Nigeria’s energy transition process.