News

Nigeria Seeks to Quadruple Electricity

Vegetable sellers ply their wares by the light of locally-made lanterns in Lagos, Nigeria (file photo).
Vegetable sellers ply their wares by the light of locally-made lanterns in Lagos, Nigeria (file photo).
Heather Murdock

The Nigerian government is privatizing the electricity business, hoping the move will quadruple electrical output over the next few years and usher in a new era of security and prosperity. Critics say corruption, cronyism, and scared investors could undermine the project. 

Lack of power impacts almost every aspect of life in Nigeria.  Power shortages create insecurity, health problems, unemployment and crush attempts at development and economic growth.  Most people have no electricity and those who do have it, have it sporadically, often for a few hours a day.  

When told the government is working on a plan that would quadruple available electricity, Abayomi and David, both young Nigerian men,  laugh. “I’m just keeping my fingers crossed you know, I’m just waiting," said Abayomi. “We are hoping it will come to a reality.  We are hoping it will come to a reality, but you say, four times better than now?  We hope so," David added. "We pray so.”

The chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Committee, Sam Amadi, says energy development has been neglected for decades but that is about to change.

He says Nigeria currently has an installed capacity of 3,800 megawatts, but almost a fourth of that energy often gets lost because of dilapidated transmission lines.  Amadi says in the next three or four years the government plans to privatize the industry, opening the door for both foreign and local businesses to thrive.  

"Given Nigeria’s level of industrialization, Nigeria would need at least about 22 to 25,000 megawatts to sustain a middle level industrial operation as well as homes, Amadi explained. "So the demand-supply gap is huge."

Amadi says 50 private companies have already been licensed to produce power, and the government is currently courting new investors.

The director general of the Energy Commission of Nigeria, Abubakar Sani Sambo, says if the privatization plan works, Nigeria’s reputation for under-development could soon become a thing of the past.

"The entire country will improve right from the industry sector, to the household sector to the services sector," Sambo stated.

Sambo says the process may move slower than planned because investors are being scared off by the continuing bombings and kidnappings in Nigeria.  Security threats, he adds, are partially due to the lack of electricity that cripples the economy and leaves many young men out of work.  

Member of parliament Yakubu Umaru Barde says the government needs to provide for all current electricity sector employees before privatization can possibly work.  He says many employees at the national power company were hired for political reasons, and as many as 40 percent may lose their jobs.

“What’s happening today is that there are saboteurs even within the power-holding company.  They don’t want to privatize," Barde said. "And I think it’s not good for us.  But the government can address that.”

Barde says if fired power-sector employees could be guaranteed compensation and pensions, the transition to private energy companies could be successful in the long run.  But, he says, sacrifices will have to be made along the way.  

Critics say even cautious optimism is unrealistic when it comes to power in Nigeria.  Shehu Sani, president of the Civil Rights Congress, says President Goodluck Jonathan’s current electricity plan, which includes a recent $10 billion deal with General Electric, will adds to the billions of dollars Nigeria has spent on improving electrical output since it transitioned to civilian rule in 1999.  He says most of the money in the past was lost to corruption.

"In most cases most of the money that is allocated for electricity ends up in private pockets," Sani noted. "It ends up with companies set up by people in government for their own personal benefit."

Sani says back in 1999, Nigeria ran on 3,000 megawatts as ambitious new energy plans were announced.  Since then, he says, there has not been significant expansion.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Martins oyinleye coker
April 27, 2012 2:24 PM
Nigeria government can get it right on electricity if gov can fight corruption to lowest level

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs