Why are so many Nigerian homes still in the dark despite far-reaching reforms? In this factsheet, we test the charge on Nigeria’s electricity challenge.
Reliable electricity continues to elude many Nigerians despite a slew of policies and billions of naira in budget appropriations to improve supply.
The country’s long-standing electricity deficit is persistently blamed for hurting economic growth. In January 2018, the country experienced a national outage after a pipeline-fire crippled gas supply to several generating stations.
Just what is Nigeria’s electricity situation?
Access: About 74 million in the dark
Nigeria is listed as one of three countries experiencing more than 60 power outages every week, along with the Comoros and Guinea. This is according to a 2017 report covering 140 countries by the World Bank and the International Energy Agency, which provides insight on global energy affairs.
In 2016, only six in 10 Nigerians had household access to electricity – either from the grid or from a renewables-based off-grid source – according to the energy agency, leaving an estimated 74 million people in the dark.
To cope with the frequent blackouts and lack of access, a quarter of Nigerians relied on generators in 2016, while nearly a third resorted to rechargeable lamps (32.3%). Another fifth (21.7%) turned to kerosene lamps and battery-operated torches. There were the findings of a 2016 Living Standard Measurement Study by the World Bank and National Bureau of Statistics.
There are a number of reasons why Nigerians don’t have electricity. Some communities still don’t have any infrastructure, while the 2016 Living Standard Measurement Study found that 24.4% couldn’t afford the connection fee.
Generation: 29 power plants
Following reforms which started in 2005, Nigeria’s electricity monopoly was unbundled into 18 companies overseeing power generation, transmission and distribution. The state retains varying shareholding in 11 firms in the distribution stage, but solely runs the nationwide grid under the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
A daily briefing site run out of the vice-president’s office lists 29 power plants, two of which are currently not operational. The plants are mostly located in the country’s south.
As at 11 March 2018, six did not send out any power – this number fluctuates regularly based on various constraints, such as inefficiencies in gas supply and changing water levels.
Gas thermal plants generate about 85% of the country’s power while hydroelectricity supply the rest.
Capacity: Average of 3,926 MWh/h produced
Nigeria has an installed capacity of 12,522 MW, according to the Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission. This refers to the maximum output of electricity that can be produced under ideal conditions.
But the average operational capacity is “far below” this, the regulator notes. Operational capacity is the electricity produced in a specific period of time, say an hour or day.
The most recent data from the Nigeria Electricity Hub, a tracking portal by an energy advisory firm, shows that Nigeria generated an average of 3,926 MWh/h in February 2018. The lowest output was on 1 February, at 3,023 MWh/h, and the highest (4,277 MWh/h) on 15 February.