Energy plays an important role in the Nigerian economy especially due to its crude oil dependence. For this reason, setbacks in its production has had immense national impact. This article shares insight on and suggests certain measures that can improve the already precarious situation.
Energy is an essential component of the mordern society in that all production and manufacturing activities revolve around it. It is used in industry, agriculture, production, material processing, communications and likewise. It cannot be over-estimated how essential it is that energy supply is consistent especially in an increasingly industrious and business-centric country such as Nigeria.
Nigeria happens to be the centre of a large energy reservoir, having the 10th largest oil reserve in the world. Crude oil has been the main source of energy as well as revenue in the country. The increased dependence has no doubt been of benefit at large to the country by providing employment, development of infrastructure, opportunities for strategic alliances between Nigeria and other countries and primary source of income in the country. In the same measure, it has led to unfortunate economic lapses and set backs in socio-economic development.
The process of refining crude oil is quite expensive and requires a lot of capital investment. It is often the case that resources for other sectors of the economy are digressed into the petroleum industry. A peculiar problem becomes the potential decline in the demand of crude oil from the international market. Other countries are begining to seek alternative sources of energy, that are cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Beside the external effects, Nigeria in itself is affected by energy crisis arising. Conflicts are peculiar to areas where the crude oil exists. Lives and property are being lost on a daily basis and the tension in the area makes the residents live in constant fear of attacks.
With the amount of crude oil the country exports, 2.2 million barrels a day, it is ideally expected that it should be able to provide energy for its citizens. However, the case is not so; the supply of electricity nationwide is lacking. On average, citizens in most regions recieve only 6 hours supply of electricity daily at best. There are many rural areas in the country that are yet to even have access to any electrical power. They still rely on some other mechanical sources of energy like fuelwood. Fuelwood combustion results in emission of poisonous gaseous substances. This does nothing to detract from Nigeria’s image of being one of the world’s largest producer of carbon emissions, closely associated with global warming. Others who can afford to, acquire privately owned generators which are barely cost-effective.
The Nigerian government have made efforts in the past to remedy the crisis but their methods have proved ineffective. Their decision to privatize the energy sector, specifically the Nigeria Electrical Power Authority was openly rejected by majority of the population. The primary approach should rather be directed towards decentralizing the nation’s energy source. The country should look at renewable energy sources like solar, coal, hydropower etc. In this respect, photovoltaic systems should be put in place to convert solar energy to direct current electricity. This will be particularly advantageous to the northern regions that average a temperature range of 29 to 34 degrees centigrade most times of the year. Hydroelectric power generation should be implemented using the oscillatory water current of the Niger and Benue Rivers.
The current national electricity distribution grid is structured such that some of the power is zoned specifically for residences. Statistics show that 30% of the electrical power generated by the grid is lost through transmission. Individuals need to desist from connecting directly to the grid for power. Such amounts of energy goes unaccounted for and form part of that which is lost in transmission. Similarly, industries and business ventures engaging in production operations that rely heavily on energy supply should avoid connecting to the general transformers, it reduces the amount of power available for domestic use in residences. This situation could be further improved by acquiring mordern technological structures which will bring about an increase in the capacity of electricity being generated. The Nigeria Electrical Power Authority should also implement smaller grid structures uniformly nationwide to avert unilateral energy distribution as opposed to the current singular grid structure being unfavorably implemented.
The country currently owns about five refineries that operate no more than half of their capacity. The government needs to manage these refineries instead of having the oil refined outside the country. As regards to preserving the useful life of the refineries and likewise existing infrastructure, vandalization is a common setback. Those responsible should realize that it is only to the nation’s detriment as more money that could have been put to good use elsewhere is spent on fixing the damages. Consequently, it diminishes the morale of the government as is reflected in its reluctance to make future investments in such infrastructure. This act should prohibited and made punishable by the law. Citizens also ought to adopt the shared moral responsibility of respecting public property for the common good.
Making a commitment to improving the country’s energy sector has to be demonstrated financially among other factors for it to be truly effective. Regardless of odds like income disparity and poverty, majority of the country’s wealth lies in the private sector. Hence, members of the Nigerian public need to be sensitized about the benefits of privatization. Such wealth, supported by proper policy planning, implementation and management will play a positive role in combatting the country’s energy crisis.
Akin Iwayemi.(2008). Nigeria’s Dual Energy Problems: Policy Issues and Challenges. International Association for Energy Economics(17 – 21).
Julia Kennedy-Darling, Nick Hoyt, Kyle Murao, Allison Ross. (2008). The Energy Crisis of Nigeria: An Overview and Implications for the Future. The University of Chicago.