Nigeria Seeks to Meter Electricity, Boost Output

Men repair generators beneath a tangle of power lines, on the rooftops of electronics stores in Oshodi Market in Lagos, Nigeria, August 24, 2010.
Men repair generators beneath a tangle of power lines, on the rooftops of electronics stores in Oshodi Market in Lagos, Nigeria, August 24, 2010.
Heather Murdock

Only 40 percent of Nigerians have access to electricity and less than half of those people receive their power through meters that measure how much electricity they use. In Abuja, the capital, stealing and overcharging for electricity usage are common practices - so much so that officials say the problem amounts to a national emergency.

At a hearing in the Nigerian capital, a panel of energy officials listens while community members report on their electricity woes, which are many and common among urban Nigerians.  In the rural areas, access to electricity is not all that common.

Joel Oziri says he is charged almost $20 a week for electricity that is available just a few hours a day.  He paid for a meter years ago, so the electric company could measure his usage, but it never arrived.  When he demanded they deliver the meter before he would pay, his electrical power was cut.

“They will cut off and tell you, you have the right to pay. Whether you like or not, you have to pay it.  Which is unfair,” said Oziri.

Officials say complaints like this are only part of why metering is a key factor in developing the electricity sector, which is essential to developing Nigeria.  The lack of electrical power plays a role in almost every problem Nigeria faces - from security, to poor national health, to economic problems.  Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and largest oil exporter, but it does not have refineries to make use of its own oil supply.

As the Nigerian government seeks to privatize the energy sector to boost electrical output, officials say customers can steal electricity and companies can overcharge for usage because many electrical connections are not metered. 


Shittu Shaibu is the strategy and project manager at the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.  He says without more metering, the addition of private companies to Nigeria’s electricity sector will lead to an explosion of lawsuits.  He says the current system could also open the door for international corporations to exploit regular Nigerians.

"Metering is critical because without metering, the distribution companies cannot first and foremost get their revenue," said Shaibu. "And secondly, there will be a lot of exploitation of the customers."

Shaibu says 60 percent of the people who have access to electricity are not metered and this lack of organization can discourage potential investors.  

Other Nigerians say metering energy is important, but not nearly as important as finding a way to get electricity into their homes.  Alexander Akinwale, a shop owner who lives in the capital, says his neighborhood has not had electricity for the past two years.

“The first issue now is to have the light.  When we have the light then any issue of or any challenges that come, we will tackle it,” said Akinwale.

Industry regulators say they are conducting a nationwide inquiry on electrical metering.  They say they are devising a plan to solve the metering problem, regardless of whose interests may be at stake.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: onwodi etinosa ezeokwu
April 29, 2012 4:14 PM
i personaly pray that some day NIGERIA will be a perfect country...but do u know wit all these satistics about my country,am stil happy to be a NIGERIAN,and am proud of my country.. also know so many NIGERIAN like me feel same way proudly NIJA

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs