Nigeria has enough coal to give it stable electricity. But for reasons best described as political, the coal deposits aren’t exploited. As a result, the $400 billion economy spends $12 billion a year on fueling petrol generators.
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“Lack of access to electricity and unreliable electricity supply are key constraints to doing business in Nigeria,” the International Monetary Fund said in its latest economic report on the country. It estimated the annual economic loss at about $29 billion. In a 2014 World Bank survey, 27% of Nigerian firms identified electricity as the main obstacle to doing business.
To keep out the darkness, households own and operate an estimated 22 million small gasoline generators, whose combined generating capacity is eight times higher than on-grid supply, according to a June 2019 presentation by Dalberg, a global policy and advisory firm. Businesses and individuals spend about $12 billion a year, twice the country’s annual infrastructure budget, fueling these generators.
Gas, which Nigeria currently depends on, is readily available, despite the fact that Nigeria has the 9th largest reserves of natural gas in the world.
Coal is available in 12 states, chiefly in the former Biafran capital Enugu. Since the Nigerian Civil War, there has been less political will in exploiting the coal to solve Nigeria’s energy problems.
So, the coal just lies there unused while the nation gropes in darkness. Yet more developed economies like US, China, Germany and South Africa use it readily.
It is a pity that the answer to our electricity problems is right there in front of us. But we refuse to use it.