News / Africa

In Resource-Rich Nigeria, a Poverty of Power

Due to Nigeria's decrepit national power grid, a man refuels a small generator in central Lagos, August 2010.
Due to Nigeria's decrepit national power grid, a man refuels a small generator in central Lagos, August 2010.
Heather Murdock
ABUJA — Poor Nigerians have increasingly less access to electricity despite government efforts to increase the nation's power capacity, activists say.
 
But officials say their government, battling with militants in the north and oil saboteurs in the south, is working to transform the nation’s economy by implementing good-governance projects that include infrastructure development.
 
According to Agence France-Presse, Abuja officials on Monday signed a $23-million deal with Canadian firm Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) aimed at overhauling power transmission throughout Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.
 
Nigeria Power employee works on a tangle of lines, Lagos, July 22, 2011.Nigeria Power employee works on a tangle of lines, Lagos, July 22, 2011.
x
Nigeria Power employee works on a tangle of lines, Lagos, July 22, 2011.
Nigeria Power employee works on a tangle of lines, Lagos, July 22, 2011.
The accord, which goes into effect July 30, obligates MHI to reorganize and partially privatize the state-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria as part of long-term plans to improve the country's dilapidated electricity network.
 
But in Abuja, activists say population growth means the percentage of electrical access among poor Nigerians is actually decreasing, while the number of electrical connections remains roughly the same.
 
Despite efforts to quadruple electrical output within the next few years, Ewah Otu Eleri, executive director of the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development, says very little money is committed to programs intended to get electricity into the poorest rural areas.
 
“An increasing number of Nigerians are living without access to vital energy services that [would] allow them to generate income and escape poverty,” he said, describing the situation as both an economic and public health disaster.
 
According to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, poverty has increased in recent years, with 61 percent of Nigerians living in "absolute poverty," lacking basic needs like food, shelter and healthcare.
 
Eleri says this forces most Nigerians to cook on traditional wooden stoves, pollution from which, according to the World Health Organization, claims nearly 100,000 lives each year, making it the county's third largest killer after malaria and AIDS.
 
While more than half of developmental aid sent to Nigeria is allotted for health programs, the power sector receives only one percent of the funding. The reason, Eleri says, is because government officials and international donors do not link issues of energy and health.
 
“There [are] resources, [but] there is absolute lack of political will," he said. "I think the government is so overwhelmed by the problems it faces today that critical issues such as providing energy services, extending the grid to rural areas, using off-grid solutions, investing in renewable energies that are so abundantly present in those rural communities, are not being exploited.”
 
Although Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer, it imports most of the fuel it consumes. Nigeria also has the world’s seventh-largest natural gas reserves, even though it exports far more than it uses.
 
With so many energy resources available in Nigeria, it is unjust that about half of its citizens have no access to power, activists say.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid