Sunday, August 1

Can Nigeria’s tech community contribute to solving the country’s energy crisis?

Two weeks ago, I tried renewing energy credits online via my bank’s website. I got debited instantly and immediately proceeded to check if power was restored. It wasn’t and I didn’t receive a refund until a week later. Although in the past, I have successfully used the system a few times, the unreliability of the service is a problem for many. At least 30,000 electronic payment transactions fail every day, according to one Nigerian commercial bank.

Nigeria is a nation where its citizens live with limited power daily.  Last month, the power supply droppedfrom 4,000 megawatts to 2,039 megawatts, grossly insufficient for a nation of 180 million people. The power generated dropped due to a shortage of gas supply to power stations. If all the country’s power facilities work to their full capacity, Nigeria could generate about 12,000 megawatts. Egypt which has about half of Nigeria’s population currently has the capacity to generate more than 24,700 MW and 99% of its residents have access to electricity.  Nigeria needs about 50,0000 MW to meet its needs according to Obioma Onyi-Ogelle, who teaches energy and natural resources law at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University.

While the solution to the energy crisis will include fixing the inefficiencies in each segment of the value chain from generation to distribution, there is a need for solutions that make it easier for consumers to access power. In a number of scenarios, some consumers will never be able to access power without these solutions. If a remote village, for example, is not connected to the power grid and have no access to financial services (whether informal or formal), energy companies will find it difficult to provide them with electricity.

Given its environmental benefits and ability to reach remote populations who are without power, renewable energy holds the best proposition to solve our power crisis. There are of course a number of arguments against the implementation of renewable energy sources, including affordability, however, prices are continuing to drop with flexible payment options increasing. Additionally, renewable energy operators are actively working on resolving other barriers–like payments and collections–to taking clean energy to those outside the grid, who may be excluded financially. Continue reading

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