News / Africa

Nigeria Plans Nuclear Power for Development

FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
FILE - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
Heather Murdock
On Monday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said his country intends to harness nuclear energy for development purposes - which to most Nigerians means one thing: providing electricity. But some analysts say that Nigeria should figure out how to keep the lights on with the huge natural resources it already has. 
 
Nigeria’s nuclear aspirations began in 2007, when then-President Umaru Yar'Adua said the country planned to add nuclear power to the national grid by 2017. 
 
The original deadline seems to be off the table, but officials say the plan is still on track.
 
“Nigeria is on course in its plan to have nuclear power that is used for nuclear energy for peaceful use. And one of the things we’ve done is to have the institutional framework in place,” said Eli Jidere Bala, the director general of the Energy Commission of Nigeria.
 
Bala said Nigeria has established a regulator, research facilities and is working with the International Atomic Energy Association.
 
“We are planning between 1,000 megawatts and 2,000 megawatts for the first instance before, very shortly. I know it takes time to plan nuclear. You must plan.  It takes about eight years for planning etc., etc. So we are targeting at 1,000 to 2,000 megawatts,” explained Bala.
 
Nigeria currently has a capacity of just 4,000 megawatts, which means roughly half the country's 160 million people have no electricity at all, and most others only have it for a few hours a day.
 
Nigerian journalist and commentator Wole Olaoye has been covering the power sector here for nearly four decades. He said that since Nigeria became a democracy in 1999, every president has promised to provide electricity for the entire country.
 
“President Jonathan promised us, ‘Oh, in 18 months’ he would do it. Then it became 24 months. Then it became 36 months. Then it became 2014. Now they are saying 2015,” said Olayoe.
 
Even if the government’s plan to add nuclear power to the national grid comes to fruition, he added, he doesn’t think it’s a good one.
 
Oil-rich Nigeria already has more than enough national resources to provide enough power for everyone, he said, but the power sector is wracked with corruption and mismanagement. While the country may have the expertise to develop nuclear power, it doesn’t have the capacity to maintain power plants safely, he added.
 
“We have security problems in Nigeria right now. And I don’t want to think of a situation where we will manage the fallout of a nuclear leakage. With the level of incompetence with which have treated our hydro-power stations, I don’t see us managing nuclear power competently and efficiently,” said Olayoe.
 
Olaoye said introducing anything that could be turned into a weapon of mass destruction into Nigeria, where Boko Haram militants have been fighting the government since 2009, could be extraordinarily dangerous. 
 
Other analysts support the president’s plan, saying nuclear energy can also be used for medical reasons, to make drinkable water from seawater, or for space programs. 
 
Given the amount of controversy that nuclear energy programs can generate, they say, the Nigerian president wouldn’t bring it up if he was not serious.

You May Like

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid