That Nigeria continues to suffer from lack of reliable electricity supply is no more news. But what has continued to rile is the penchant of the Ministry of Power to always tell consumers of the never ending plans to increase electricity supply to meet the demands of the country in the shortest possible time.
Even in the face of these untruths, we know that rather than improve, the quantity of electricity generated by the existing power stations has continued to fall. For more than five years now, the Federal Government has been announcing plans to generate more than 16,000Megawatts of power to meet the ever growing demands of consumers. Unfortunately, the statistics show that the total power supply as of today is a miniscule 3,000 Megawatts. This situation, according to the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo is the result of inadequate gas supply to power stations and the ever recurring pipeline vandalism.
Definitely, Nigerians are tired of excuses over the inability of government to provide them with enough electricity. On July 7, 2014, the Presidential Task Force on Power estimated that electricity demand in the country stood at 12,800 Megawatts, while it was only able to produce 3,400 MW. Today, rather than improve, the quantity of power supply continues to deteriorate.
According to World Bank estimates, only 48 percent of Nigeria’s 165 million population has access to electricity. Contrast that with South Africa’s electricity output of 36,000 megawatts, and with a population of less than 50 million. Lack of generating capacity, blackouts and voltage variations have resulted in many residential and commercial customers in Nigeria resorting to producing their own power with private generators.
A 2011 World Bank survey of 3,000 Nigerian business revealed that the biggest problem facing them was unreliable power supply. They reported that they experienced average power outages of eight hours per day. Eighty eight percent of retail and manufacturing businesses reported owning private generators.
The manufacturing businesses surveyed reported that approximately 69 percent of their total electricity usage was produced by private generators. The expenses incurred running private generators cost the average business the equivalent of more than four percent of their sales. Even so, those lucky enough to be on the grid are always plunged into darkness.
It is quite unfortunate that Nigeria cannot supply up to 10 percent of her national minimum electricity requirement.
The country and its citizens have waited for too long to have adequate electricity supply, one of the things taken for granted in other more organised countries. Nigerians are tired of excuses; all they want from their leaders is adequate and constant power supply.
*this was published in the Daily Times newspaper dated Monday, December 29, 2014