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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs