The Nigerian Energy Conundrum (1)

My almost fading memory of secondary school physics describes energy as “the ability to work”. This means of course that work is a form of energy. Like many nations in transition, Nigeria requires clean, affordable and steady supply of energy to strive, let alone compete among the league of great nations. When this notion is integrated within limits of the conundrum that is a developing country like Nigeria, we arrive at a solution that is fact a mangling of the laws of thermodynamics. The first (which relates to this discuss) states that, energy can neither be created nor destroyed. This does not surprise me or anyone that understands the complexity that is the Nigerian nation, as Nigerians have a way of defying the laws of nature, let alone those of physics. Pardon my digression, my point is that over the years we as a nation have neither created (save for the ponzi Obasanjo power scheme) nor tried to maintain the energy plants (by this I mean power) or the infrastructure necessary to sustain it. At the last count, the nation’s four refineries were either down, moribund or non operational; oil exploration and or prospecting has been brought to its knees (no thanks to militancy and what not), the President and his so called power advisers are clueless on what to do… or have refused to act. I could go on and on about the state of the nation’s energy/power sector or the over-powering politics holding it back. But this is just a blog not a white paper – besides what results have past white papers, dossiers and countless energy committees or panels set up in the past done to salvage the situation.

Last week, while peering through the pages of the New African magazine I came to the realization that our inability as a nation, Nigeria, to make headway is not due to our ineptitude but our refusal to make ANY real effort at all. Here is a nation with vast resources not excluding oil reserves in an area twice the size of the Netherlands and yet we falter. Puzzling erh? Not for the Nigerian populace. At the last check, the power plants (Kainji and the lot) in the country generate a paltry 3800 MW of power for over 150 million people including businesses among others. There are plans to establish a super smart grid that will bring generation up to 6900 MW in April 2011. Whether or not this is an April fool’s joke remains to be seen. What is obvious however and saddening is that the Obasanjo government spent (make that squandered) $16 bn dollars of the nation’s money on nothing more than a ponzi scheme called the Independent Power Projects – but that has all been swept under the expensive rugs in the Aso Villa and PDP house in Abuja. Ours is a nation that truly defiles the laws of physics -wouldn’t you agree. It’s insane the things you hear happening in Nigeria. But God dey as we are quick to quip – well like I have always opined and will maintain, it’s high time we stopped waiting on God to help Nigeria – We have to help our nation. After all the scriptures say, “Heaven helps those who help themselves”.

With $16 bn spent on Power Generation, one would expect that Nigeria’s power problems should have all but disappeared. With all due respect to Obasanjo and his PDP regime – you have failed Nigerians. This is what I will have done with $16 bn. I’ll get the almost clueless National Assembly to pass into law a mandate requiring all oil & gas companies in the Niger Delta to stop ALL GAS FLARING. This law will be called the Clean Energy & Climate Change in Nigeria Law/Act (CECIN) will also establish a commission with seasoned academics that will among other things check the oil companies, levy HEFTY penalties on firms who fail to comply to its mandate and invest heavily in infrastructure to generate energy via various media including gas plants. As an incentive, the partnering oil firms that comply with the directives will be given tax breaks in the mould of the Feed-in-Tariffs or Green Certificates obtainable in the West. The law will also see an increase in investment in energy technologies in our universities of technology. The cost of this plan so far has not exceeded $100 mn. Next up, the commission will supervise the award of contracts (a process duly checked and ratified by the hopefully incorruptible EFCC) to build the 3 biomass fired power plants each with a generation capacity of 3000 MW each at a cost of $2 bn each. This alone will fire up our total energy generating capacity from 3 800 MW to 12 800 MW which though is still 18 200 MW less than South Africa’s installed capacity, but quite an improvement. Investments in the Gas powered plants (3 with approx. 700 MW each) in tandem with the Oil companies should bring generated capacity to about 15000 MW by the year 2015 with the estimated time of construction of each power plant put at 4 years. Alternatively, if I may so bold as to suggest we can simply build 3 safe nuclear reactors – the new generation type built/maintained by the French company AREVA each costing about $6 bn each but a longer time of construction. This is of course is not a viable option especially in a nation where religious fanaticism, corruption and disrespect for the law are rife – the citing of nuclear reactors within its borders will only serve to fuel the flames of annihilation at the slightest provocation.

To be continued!

Written by
Bemgba Nyakuma
Join the discussion

1 comment
  • I don’t understand the technical bits but I am happy to read that someone has thought out the remedy to our energy woes. I hear that President Goodluck pays attention to his friends on facebook. Perhaps you could try to contact him about your solutions?