Electricity Generation in Nigeria: Problems and Likely Solution

franklin — By Franklin from Nigeria

This project was completed as part of a special course on electricity, in partnership with the Enel Foundation.

It’s the 21st century and it’s okay to say the importance of electricity cannot be overemphasized. When you come to think about it, electricity is used in every form of life: we use electricity to power our devices and stay connected with friends and family, we use electricity to preserve food using the microwave and freezer amidst many others, and we use electricity to make our work easier while sweeping with the vacuum cleaner or washing with the washing machine. All of these are just simple home applications of the wonder that is electricity. When it comes to its industrial use, electricity is very important. It is important in the areas of medicine, manufacturing, building and construction. Now, with all of this importance and more, think of a world without electricity or with electrical failure: communication will be lost, spoilage will occur leading to wastage, there will be more laborious activities and lives may even be lost. To avoid these problems, electricity has to be a constant to allow for the smooth running of day-to-day activities.

I live in Lagos, Nigeria and generally, in Nigeria, power is either hydro-electric or via thermal or fossil fuel, which make use of coal or natural gas. Here, power is first generated, transmitted and distributed to our houses. For each of these stages, there is a company attached to handling it. Now as of January 2017, Nigeria generates about 7,200 Megawatts of power. On the average, 1000 homes need about 1 Megawatt of power for constant electricity. What this means is that only 7.2 million homes can be powered with the amount of electricity that Nigeria generates. This estimate does not include companies and industries which require a very large amount of power. With a population of about 200 million, one can clearly see that the amount of power generated is way too low to allow for the constant supply we desire. If I were in power, one of the first things I’ll do is seek out other means of power generation. For a country that has sun every other day of the year, it’s surprising that Nigeria doesn’t make use of solar energy for power generation. There is also an abundance of gas in the country: little wonder we are the number 9 country in the world with the highest gas reserves. These other means of power generation should be looked into. This will further make the country’s power similar to the USA where power is distributed amongst various means like coal, natural gas, hydro, wind and solar, in that order.

Unfortunately for Lagos, which is the most populated city in Nigeria, the electricity is largely unstable. That’s what you get when the power generated is not enough. On some days, there’s power supply for six out of twenty-four hours, some days more, and some days even less. The truth is half of the people in Lagos, Nigeria rely on fueled generators for electricity. Aside from the noise that this comes with, they are pretty expensive to maintain and also fuel regularly. Some of the times, this power failure is due to poles and transformers spoilage, especially during the rainy season, and this may go on and on. In some parts of Lagos and the country as a whole, tax-paying individuals living in these areas affected by transformer issues have to rally around to contribute and fix these items. All of this happens when there’s a sitting government and it should not be. The government needs to work actively on her maintenance culture, protecting pipelines and poles and attending to them in cases where attention is required.

In addition, rotten eggs need to be flushed away from the power sector. In a sector where a lot of work needs to be done, it is funny to note that a lot of individuals working in this sector are interested in personal gains solely and have no business whatsoever with the state of the industry they’re in. These individuals do all within their power to siphon the funds being given to this industry in the name of greed.

With all these put in place, the problem of low power generation will hopefully be a thing of the past and constant power supply will be the new trend because honestly, that’s what we need right now.

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My Electricity Situation: A Journey Through my Mind, Life, and Reality

Picture1 (1) — By Gugulethu from Zimbabwe

This project was completed as part of a special course on electricity in partnership with the Enel Foundation.

There is nothing that can explain the euphoria that overcomes me every time I board a bus and I’m headed to that one place I call home – Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. In the purée of my thoughts I’m often engulfed with the numerous activities that I will undertake once I get there ranging from reconnecting with old friends, seeing my family, and having to devour all of my holy grail foods. More times than not these thoughts are watered down by the sudden realization of the harsh realities of the socio-economic injustices in my country, which is often clouded by my aloofness.

The first thought of these inequalities that make my stomach churn is the numerous involuntary candle light dinners that I would have to succumb to, not because my family is too romantic but because the dire electricity blackouts are the order of the day; it has become the norm. As I sit on the bus my mind often flashes back to a time when I was studying towards my O Level exams. I always dub that time as one of the hardest and most intrinsic parts of my existence. Our country was experiencing our greatest economic recession partly caused by sanctions imposed by the West, and when the West sneezed, it meant that the minorities like us would catch the cold.

I vividly remember how I would get home and find that there is a blackout and I would have to aid my grandparents in gathering pieces of firewood if they did not have enough money to purchase it. This would lead to making a fire; in unfortunate times it would either be raining or icy cold. All of this had to be done on a daily basis and I would still have to study with a candle in my most critical high school phase. I like to reiterate how I could have done better, could have got better marks in my O Level if I had a conducive environment to study in. One may argue through an old adage and even quote Beyoncé that when life gives you lemons make lemonade, but the government officials and policy makers have no idea the psychological turmoil which is felt mostly by young people brought about by the lack of electricity.

As a black person living in a third world country, one is expected to accept the status quo, be comfortable with it, and view it as the norm. Flash forward to Zimbabwe’s current electricity situation, the juxtaposition in the economical inequalities in comparison with my current country of residence, South Africa: the difference is quite alarming. Starting off with South Africa, the load-shedding is relative to where one stays.The rich and the middle class rarely empathize with those that live in informal settlements, who don’t experience blackouts because there is no electricity to begin with. What makes the plight of those living in informal settlements saddening is the fact that they live right in the heart of the urban areas where they can make a physical comparison to the wealthy, where a road separates beaming lights from smoke and dust.

Bringing it closer to home, in Zimbabwe, the supply of electricity is still critical, as ‘load shedding’ is used on a routine basis. It still puzzles me to this day that the only way the government can regulate the power generation capacity to meet the demand is to cut electricity for taxpayers and citizens at large for long periods of hours, even days. Instead of seeking aid from international organizations and external funding sources to step in and sponsor alternative, clean, sustainable, and renewable energy solutions like solar energy. Solar energy has fewer carbon emissions and in the process curbs the increase of global warming and climate change. Still, solar energy hasn’t been deeply exploited in Zimbabwe.

People that stay in the rural areas suffer the most as 19% of the total rural population have access due to the prohibitive costs of extending national electricity grids. In addition, no new developments have been made in the country’s generation sector since the commissioning of the Hwange Coal Plant in 1988, meaning all coal fired stations in Zimbabwe are in need of major upgrades. They have numerous and frequent production stops, or to say the least are not producing at all which is one of the key contributors to the longevity of blackouts. Therefore, this has been affecting the economic performances of food industries, hospitals, banks, businesses and households.

Nobody knows when the stability of various industries in Zimbabwe will prevail but I would propose conferences with solutions that have an aim of boosting international awareness and attracting potential funding sources. These dire circumstances have contributed to a lot of brain drain and young people fleeing to other countries for greener pastures. With in-depth analysis some of these solutions would be undertaken in areas like my hometown Bulawayo and the Eastern Highlands which could benefit from the installation of wind turbines as they have the highest wind speeds. With due course, we should ditch the use of coal (which is one of the major energy suppliers in the country) which has the most waste problems of all energy sources like sulphuric, radioactive elements, excess ash and nitrogen oxides amongst others.

On the note of complexities or inconsistencies of electricity supply, I have missed out on a lot of opportunities as a budding journalist and copywriter. I have to be constantly on the global web researching, have my camera handy to document any news that might spring up, have a place to jot down notes and ideas when my creative muse is on my side. We have had to throw away perishable foods when there were long power cuts, which is always a strain financially, and contributes to excess solid waste being emitted.

One of the utmost complexities of the aforementioned juxtaposition of ensuring adequate and consistent electricity supply in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Africa at large is having inept government officials that over-promise in elections and underdeliver post elections. A majority of African political leaders are unscrupulous, lack accountability, and only when the day comes when they empathize, gain insights and foresights, and put people first instead of their reputation and pockets, Africa will steer towards the right direction.

I envision a time when African policy makers having a grasp of understanding that electricity is part of infrastructural development, making it pivotal to economic development. I have premonitions of a time when there would be enough advocacy to show the need that people who live in rural areas of Gwanda in Zimbabwe and informal settlements in Kya Sands in South Africa experience.

Advocacy and profiling of the statistics of relatives of the man who died due to a power cut in Mpilo Hospital in Zimbabwe. Lest we forget an entire family that died when they inhaled carbon monoxide from sleeping with a primer stove in their house in Marondera. To the man who was given a hefty fine for bridging electric wires because it’s just TOO expensive. And lastly, I live to see a day where crime is not perpetrated more on our women, who are raped, abused, and killed because they were 2 minutes away from the light.

I envision a time when I take my next trip to Zimbabwe with a radiant smile. As I leave South Africa with hope. As I put my earphones in to listen to Drake’s album, I want to sincerely sing along and say indeed ‘WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE’ — in Africa.

The Joy in Working With the Youths

Lena — By Lena from Malawi

Growing up in a middle-class family, I used to think we lacked a lot of things which when I grew up, I realised were luxury. Mid-density area, well-furnished house, both parents having modest jobs and going to modest schools, seemed like a way of life and nothing else really mattered. Never in my wildest dreams did it occur to me that some lack even the basic needs, let alone school fees, despite how bright and zealous they might be about Education. For someone like me, education was something I had to do because my parents wouldn’t allow me to ditch school and loaf around. Little did I know what others are going through just to attend college.

Working for an organisation that defends the rights of women, youths, children, and people with disability, I am a defender of the rights of these target audiences and in the process realised my dream of empowering the youths. Having thought of helping the youths on some deeper level, of which I haven’t had the opportunity to establish my own organisation or film that is mainly into empowering the youths, I got a job that I enjoy doing.

Having worked for 10 years, I have never felt satisfied on the job like I feel now, and I realise it is because I can finally do what I am passionate about. This feeling of satisfaction made me realise that working should be more than just a pay check.

Within a short time, I’ve realised youths between the ages of 18 and 35 are a bright bunch of youngsters who always have fascinating ideas and positive energy. They are a group of hopeful people who regardless of their backgrounds, lack of basic needs and care, look forward to fulfilling every plan they have envisioned.

Sitting at my desk one morning in June, with a mission to get done with that day’s task which was to finalise reviewing applications for candidates for a youth volunteer programme, I came across an application that caught my attention. From the application, I envisaged a bright boy who made people laugh. Meeting James Samson in a one-on-one interview, I established he was a bright boy who has experienced a tough upbringing but has never given up. Not only did he earn a spot in the volunteer programme, the opportunity opened doors for him to finish his education. Here is what Samson says:

A third born of late Mr. and Mrs. Samson, I was born in Mangochi district, which is in the Southern part of Malawi, in tradition authority Chimwala in Kausi village. My mother is from Mangochi, while my father was from Karonga in the Northern part of Malawi, in the area of tradition authority Kilupula, in Iponga village.

Both of my parents had small businesses. In 2004, my father decided to take the family to his home village where 9 months down the line, he passed away after suffering a minor headache. Way of life made a back flip as my father’s uncle removed us from our house, and took away our family possessions. All this happened because my mother refused to go through a wife inheritance process, which is largely practiced in Karonga.”

A wife inheritance is commonly practiced in Malawi and has been called different names in the different cultures in Malawi:  ‘Kuhara’ ‘Chokolo’ and ‘Kulowa Kufa’ are some of the names used. This practice allows a brother of the deceased to marry the widow. It has of late been a contentious issue in the wake of HIV & AIDS.

“Consequently, in 2007, my mother decided to take us back to Mangochi with the hope of things getting better. Unfortunately, conditions in Mangochi were not friendly either, and we struggled to survive. Amidst such an environment, in 2008, l was selected to Changali Community Day Secondary School, of which I worked extremely hard and scored 13 points in the Malawi School Certificate of Education and was selected to pursue a Bachelors of Education Social Studies at Chancellor College the University of Malawi. I was enrolled under the Government bursary until third year when the school fee was increase by 300% and the Government stopped the support and I couldn’t continue any more and had to temporarily withdraw.

After spending a year at home, things changed dramatically when l was recruited to participate in International Citizen Service Programme on a six-month placement as a team leader. Coincidentally, l was assigned to work in Zomba, a district where chancellor college is located. Through the stipend which l received, coupled with support from one of the lecturers from the college, l had been able to partially resume my studies at chancellor collage and l expect to finish my four-year studies by July 2018. Four years from now, l will be able to fully support my mother and my brothers as well as my community at large.

Life has taught me not to lose hope, as situations that may seem hard and hopeless turn out to be the core sources of next opportunities. Therefore, my message to youths is that they should not lose hope, and they should set more goals, even when everything seems to go against them.”

Nita Ambani says, and I quote, “Education is not a tool for development – individual, community, and the nation. It is the foundation for our future. It is empowerment to make choices and emboldens the youth to chase their dreams.”

Youth empowerment is my passion and am glad to have indirectly contributed to a youth’s success.

The Menchum Fall: Cameroon’s Rural Electrification Power Reservoir

yuh (1) — By Yuh Acho from Cameroon

This project was completed as part of a special course on electricity, in partnership with the Enel Foundation.

If I were the President of my country (Cameroon), in order to salvage the power insufficiency all over the nation, I would implement just one policy: that of the construction of a hydroelectric dam over the Menchum Fall which presently has been noted by experts to have an incomparable potential for rural electrification in the country.

LOCATION

Cameroon, fondly referred to as Africa in miniature, is home to this power treasure. The Menchum Fall is specifically located in Menchum Division (20km south of Wum and 30km north of Bafut). The Menchum Division is one of seven divisions of the North West Region of Cameroon. It is a tributary of the Benue River in Nigeria. The North West and South West Regions are the only two Anglophone regions in a Francophone dominated, ten-regioned, bilingual country.

CAPACITY and POTENTIAL

After the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon has the second most abundant hydropower potential on the African continent (with an estimated capacity of 12000MW) and two-thirds of its on-grid installed capacity is powered by hydropower (yet the country is currently harnessing only 5% (721MW) of its enormous hydropower resources through three main hydro power plants namely: Song Loulou 348MW, Edea 263MW and Lagdo, 72MW). Aside from hydropower, the main installed network capacity (298MW) is supplied by thermal power plants.

Cameroon’s currently installed generation capacity stands at 1,475MW. And though Cameroon has a relatively high national electrification rate of 55%, just 17% of the country’s rural regions are electrified while urban electrification rates are as high as 88%.

This makes a special case for rural electrification thus rendering the National Rural Electrification Master Plan even more significant.

The Menchum Dam if constructed should be able to produce an installed capacity of 450MW which would represent a whopping 40% increase in the overall electricity output of Cameroon. This was stated by the Managing Director of Joule Africa, an Anglo-American energy company contracted to construct the dam in March 2012.

According to www.njeitimah-outlook.com/Menchum-Falls/, The Menchum Fall was reputed to be one of the most powerful waterfalls in Africa in the sixties. However, this changed due to deforestation and a resultant drop in water tables.

DIFFICULTIES and PROBLEMS

All the existing dams are all found in the francophone regions of the country thus leaving a bitter taste of a longstanding marginalization in the mouths of the Anglophone community.

Power is below sufficiency even in Yaoundé the capital city as you can hardly go for a full week without power cuts; and that’s at best. Other small quarters of the capital city are counting months and even years of no electricity. It is even worst in rural areas so they have maintained traditional means of lighting (kerosene lamp), wax candles or have adopted alternative sources of lighting such as rechargeable or nonrechargeable battery systems like torches and lamps. Those who can afford have resorted to the moderate solar systems. Large solar panels do exist but that’s reserved to the wealthy.

PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS

As earlier mentioned, the Cameroon government has seemingly awarded contracts a number of times to some energy companies to construct this hydroelectric dam over the River Menchum including Joule Africa in 2012 and CIMA Int’l and ARQ Engineering in 2015. In the beginning of this year there were unverified claims that the contract had been awarded to yet another contractor. Unfortunately as we speak, nothing has been done. As to why nothing has been done so far is a subject for another investigation.

Meanwhile other dams that were started later are very close to completion if not completed. This lackluster attitude by government to follow up on this project is widely perceived as a show bad faith considering that this government is almost absolutely a francophone entity and that the Menchum Fall if constructed will primarily serve the anglophone minority.

Not only are they neglected as a potential power panacea for the country, it is also neglected as a touristic money making machine.

Lambasting the state of this site, Auke VanderHoek of The Vanguard newspaper remarked back in 2009 that, “the Menchum Falls are impressive to see but the long rough ride and the unwelcoming conditions of the site make it not all worth the trouble.” He further says, “Cameroon is the African Continent in miniature. Almost everything that Africa has can be found in this country. Look around and you see it’s a country rich on natural resources and has a huge potential for tourism: impressive, beautiful and adventurous. But what is missing is a good tourism industry.”…and a political will for rapid and sustainable development; I dare add.

OPPORTUNITY FOR INVESTMENT

Cameroon is the most populous State in the CEMAC sub-region and also has the fastest growing population. About half of the total population has access to electricity but less than 25% of rural Cameroon is covered.

However, there are plans to install an additional 720MW of hydropower capacity by 2020 even though experts say amid rising demands from a galloping population and investors, the country will rather need an additional 3GW of energy by the same time. The government is also working on implementing measures to facilitate the introduction of energy efficiency and off grid renewable energy investments.

The government’s Rural Electrification Master Plan aims at electrifying 660 localities through grid by 2030. The potential presented by the Menchum Falls would be a comfortable and reliable power warehouse to this effect as it will level most of the problems of power insufficiency in the country especially in the rural areas. If finally implemented, the Menchum Dam will be the first in the whole of the Anglophone Cameroon and what a relief this will be.

These all culminate in creating a juicy opportunity of investment in the rural electrification domain.

Now the big question is: WHO IS THERE TO GRAB THIS OPPORTUNITY?

The Light Switches That Never Work: Our Electricity Challenge and the Way Forward

Anibe — By Anibe from Nigeria

This project was completed as part of a special course on electricity in partnership with the Enel Foundation.

We have been without light for so long that the usual single lit candle is almost too bright to look at. There is a light switch just over the bed I share with my sisters. Only, like others in the house, it hasn’t worked in about five months. The switch is covered in the grease of hundreds of hands that keep hoping it will work.

You see, we have forgotten that these things are supposed to work — switches, water dispensers or even refrigerators. The saddest part for me is how our psyche, as a people, have been adversely affected — we have become as technologically up-to-date as a garden shed.

What more, the once vibrant-coloured walls at the backyard are stained with charcoal from local cooking stoves. Even the neon and white lights that used to flood from Buba’s bar across the road are extinguished as early as 8:00pm. Buba complains of how expensive it is fueling his generators in the current recession.

Recently, to our joy, there have been talks on taking waste management to the next level of reuse: renewable and recycling. Social entrepreneurs and the government talk big on TV about revolutionizing the way waste is treated from the point of generation by involving households and other waste production points in sorting and separation. They tell us how this would also provide health and environmental education to schools.

There have also been alarming reports of nonrenewable sources of energy such as oil, coal and gas depleting and of their contamination of the environment, especially carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. These reports are partly the reason why there have been calls for the exploration of other sources of energy that are cleaner, continuous and renewable like nuclear energy, sunshine, wind, plant oil, hydro, geothermal, etc.

Evidently, Nigeria has the technology/know-how and raw materials to completely switch to renewable energy. However, our own laws and policies prevent this from happening. Nigeria is an oil-rich country but only a few enjoy our common wealth. The oil industry may stall the development of this move by convincing the government into undermining alternative sources of energy. Apparently, switching completely to renewable energy would upset the comfortable lifestyle of many oil rig owners and marketers.

And so, our government would rather spend billions of Naira on fixing obsolete electricity plants that have refused to work than changing the infrastructure of society to be based on renewable energy. It is no news that we wouldn’t have to be dependent on crude oil for our fuel if we converted, but what exactly is the way forward?

The solution lies in Nigerians rising up to the challenge and understanding that many renewables are pretty modular and don’t have to be applied on a large scale like power plants or nuclear facilities. People can become their own energy producers and this will gradually erode the oil giants’ grip on the society.

Nigerians have to keep in mind that we don’t have to worry too much about running out of our non-renewable sources. Unlike crude oil, new reserves will always pop up and will last us hundreds, if not thousands of years. For us, the idea behind abolishing fossil fuels may just be more than just an approach to the climate change situation, the accessibility and affordability of renewable energy are even more important.

More so, renewable energy systems are clean and free from carbon emissions. Nigerians wouldn’t have to be afraid of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect, acid rain and other negative impacts on health on our environment. Renewable energy has almost no negative influence on health and nature.

We also need local investors who would look forward to investments in renewable energy because it is an investment of value. The kind of investors we need are those with genuine interest in how the product will improve lifestyle and help to reduce negative environmental impact. Here, the growth in terms of money or benefits may not be immediately seen but they will be impacting on social life.

Finally, we need the Nigerian government to start becoming serious about carbon-dioxide emissions, providing subsidized renewable energy manufacturing and incentives for usage (e.g. financial aids for installing solar PV), etc. With initiatives such as these, manufacturing scale will be increased, efficient and cheap for investors and consumers.

With the right awareness, commitment and investments in renewable energy by Nigerians and the government, it is our hope that someday, soon, the light switches would work again.

Tales of Cannabis from the Warm Heart of Africa

21175954_1498788570209917_871295268_n — By Harvey from Malawi

How much do you know about Malawi as a country? Probably very little. Experience everything about the country through Harvey’s eyes, a local who is traveling across the country, reporting for YaLa Africa Press. You just might like it!

These days when you hear the term ‘drugs’ on mainstream media, one’s mind immediately turns to the Mexican drug cartels, a few Television Shows such as Narcos or Breaking Bad, and in most cases, drug problems in developed countries such as the US. But no, this is not what this article is all about. Like with developed countries, third world countries too have their own drug problems. Although issues of drugs, including their different and varied effects are usually overlooked by society, they actually do exist in Malawi.

Usually when one is talking about issues to do with drugs in Malawian context, they are referring to marijuana or cannabis. Don’t get me wrong here, other drugs do exist, but cannabis is the most used and the most widely available substance on the market. Unlike prescription drugs which are imported, cannabis is locally grown, affordable depending on quality, and very easy to access. Half of the youths in my community are either active users of cannabis, have used cannabis, or supply cannabis as a means of earning a living. For most people, cannabis is not a drug. It’s a coping mechanism, it’s a means of earning a living, or as some put it: a spiritual herb.

Prior to writing this article, I asked a few friends as to the reasons why they use cannabis. The general answer was, “I want to beat boredom,” or, “My day is too long without it.” Thus, it comes down to one thing, most of the younger generation is feeling stagnant. It is easy to see that perhaps the root cause of this growing drug problem is sloth. Simply put, their time is not being put up to productive use due to lack of economic opportunities. Because I believe in hearing all sides of a story, I went to visit one cannabis supplier who also happens to be my childhood friend.

He confessed that the returns from this illicit business are too good to let them slide by. When he demonstrates to me the economics of it all, as well the pricing mechanism in cannabis trade, it all makes perfect sense. He also states that the money he makes is too good because this being an illegal product, there are no taxes from the central government involved. He does not like the term drug dealer, his clients call him the herbalist, a spiritualist, and a few other terms that give respect to his occupation. He however testifies most youths who are idle in their everyday lives do abuse cannabis more than those engaged in various income generating activities. Sadly, it is not as if he can put a stop to it and select which people he sells to, or rather he just doesn’t want to do that for fear of losing out on possible economic gains.

What is being considered a ‘drug problem’ by policy makers is but an economic activity to those who sell the so-called drug. For the consumers, it is no longer a drug, nor do they care about the economic aspect of it. Rather it is a welcome relief, something used to pass the day by. Perhaps it is these incongruities in how different people perceive drug use which is making it difficult to deal and manage such issues. Perhaps multiple approaches are needed to take into consideration the needs of all parties involved in issues concerning drugs and their use. Perhaps.

Effects of Electricity in Social Services (Schools and Health Centers) and Work and Possible ways we can Cope with it

adan — By Adan from Somalia

This project was completed as part of a special course on electricity in Africa, in collaboration with the Enel Foundation.

INTRODUCTION

Somalia, which lies the horn of Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is recovering from 26 years of civil wars which paralyzed the infrastructure of the country, including the energy sources. During the civil wars, the state-owned energy company ENEE (Ente Nazionale Energia Elettrica) and the national utility operating a national grid which was serving the cities of Mogadishu, Hargeisa, Berbera, Gardo, Erigavo, Merka, Bossasso, Burao, Kismayo, and Badoa shut  down and the Ministry of Electricity was inactive.

However, Somalia is currently enjoying a total privatization of electricity which has partially filled the role of the government, thought they cover the electricity needs of the major cities. Still, they are tackling unaffordable prices with less power to generate more energy. During this photo essay, I will interview representatives from the both private companies and the Ministry of Electricity and Water. Also, I will show how electricity in the country affected negatively the health, schools, and workplaces.

At the end of this study I will come up with some proposed solutions which will mitigate or stop the bad effects of the electricity on social services and workplaces by quoting different stakeholders in this issue.

AdanPicture1

Here is a traffic street inside Mogadishu; the long wall is the center of ex-state owned energy company ENEE, which is currently repaired and resided by a private company called BECO (Banadir Electric Company). Inside the wall there is a motor which works 24 hours a day and generates power. Opposite the wall there is an hospital called Iqraa Medical and Surgery Hospital; in its door stands a young nursing boy as you can see from the picture. The patients, workers and administration have problems with the sound of the motor.

The hospital patients are also suffering from the sound of the cars and motorcycles which regularly use the street, as you can see from picture. The businesses near the motor face sound pollution from it as well.

AdanPicture2

This is another picture that shows how electricity negatively affects social services and works. This building is an accommodation for the same company of BECO, a hospital called Lafweeyn, and a factory which processes fish. Though BECO uses this building only for office, still every day company workers with ladders, wires and other electricity tools come from the building which may affect the attached hospital and factory. Beside these social centers and works appeared in the picture there are other shops and pharmacies which reside here.

AdanPicture3

This picture shows the WIIF Electricity and Water Supply Company motor which attaches to Anas Bin Malik Primary and Secondary school. This school has nearly 2,000 students in two shifts and the motor works all day by generating power and makes waste pollution to the nearby environment. The people who reside near this motor have difficulties communicating because of the heavy sound of the motor. Some people believe that schools and hospitals reside near the motors since the rent is too cheap because of the pollution, but those social centers ignore the interest and health of their customers, including patients and students.

These two attached pictures taken from two different angles show the same company, WIIF, which releases waste pollution to the nearby environment. The tubes are not controlled well so this company produces more supply of water and everyone who passes this street experiences a bad smell.

AdanPicture6

I interviewed Engineer Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulle, the director of the renewable energy department of the Ministry of Electricity and Water. Abdulkadir, who was in his car while he was letting me interview him, answered many questions related to this topic; he told me that there are many environmental, social, and economic problems regarding electricity in Somalia including:

  • Very high dependence on unmanaged and unsustainable biomass energy (86% of Somali electricity is generated from biomass)
  • Threat to desertification
  • Health hazard to women and children
  • Too much time and energy spent to collect biomass
  • Inefficient traditional stoves, etc.
  • Rural poor unable to change their way of life due to lack of modern energy
  • Existing electricity tariffs do not cover costs. Cost of 1kW is 1USD
  • Lack of penetration by the private sector
  • Heavy dependence on imported oil
  • Roughly 90% of the Somali population has no access to electric power

He also told me that ENEE used to produce 170 MW – 190 MW, but current private companies only produce 30 to 40 MW. He added that Somalia is experiencing a low quality of distribution networks and that the ministry is planning to prepare regulations for the private electric companies.

AdanPicture7

Engineer Abdurrahman Ibrahim Isse is a secretary in the engineering department of Mogadishu Power Supply Company. The first question I asked was if they have a bad affect on the social services and works and he said to me that before they rent a center they make sure that there are no social service centers nearby such as schools, MCHs, hospitals, etc. He also told me that they have social responsibility policies including free electricity to nearby houses and businesses, giving internships to the electrical engineering students, and low charges to the needy people.

He said to me that one of the electrical problems in Somalia is the high price of kilowatts and that they are planning to make Somali electricity as cheap as India and Sudan. He said that the cost of a kilowatt in India is just over 0.00 rupees which costs only $3.5 per month. Also, Sudan is enjoying $0.12 per kilowatt. He extended the problems which Somali industries inherited from high cost of electricity. As an example, he used an industry which produces pasta in Kuwait that spends $1800 only per month on electricity compared to a Somali industry which produces bread that has electricity costs of $50,000 per month.

He said to me that a Somali investor tried to establish an industry which makes ice cream and sweets. When the estimated cost of electricity became $25,000 per month, he decided not to do it.

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Abdifitah Elmi Osoble, is a branch manager at Blue Sky company for electricity. This company is one of two companies which have full social responsibility policies; they succeeded to make their motors out of the city. Also, they don’t have any bad effect on social service centers.

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Abdifitah Hassan Alasow is deputy finance director at WIIF Electric and Water Supply Company. This company has a bad effect on the environment and social service centers. As you see in this study, it makes waste pollution to the environment. Also, one of their motors is attached to a school. He told me that all their motors are inside the city.

When the administration of BECO, which is the most polluted company beside WIIF, rejected to give an interview to this study without reason, fortunately one of my co-workers connected me to one of their branch managers called Hassan Abdullahi Mohamed. Though he rejected me to take a picture of him he told me that they are planning before they place their motors in an area. He also said, “we have a social responsibility policy by giving aid contribution to the famine-affected people in the country, and free or discounted electric service to schools, mosques, public places, such as roads, streets and etc.” He also mentioned that they have automatic switches/circuit pickers in case of electricity risk.

PROPOSED SOLUTIONS

By quoting the above-mentioned interviewees of this study the most suggested solutions to Somali electricity are as follows:

  1. To rebuild ENEE, Somali Energy Managing Agency, and namely to build a new power plant.
  2. To establish public enterprises which provide cheap electric service to the citizens and compete with private companies.
  3. To make firefighters in case of electrical risk problems or fires exploding; now the Ministry of Electricity has no firefighters or any other policy in case this risk comes.
  4. To move from fuel/gas energy to solar energy. If this happens the citizens will enjoy low cheap, affordable and 24 hours service of electricity. If the electricity becomes cheap the production of industries will increase, which enhances the economy and well-being of the country, as well as increasing employment (currently BECO generates only 2.5 megawatt from solar energy).
  5. To practice effective social responsibility policies, including automatic switches, free or low charge of electric to social service centers and public goods/places.
  6. Flexible government: in Somalia the politics are unstable; sometimes the cabinet only exists less than in one month due to conflict between prime minister and the president, so the data about electricity is not stored well. Thus, it is very important that any minister who is leaving from the office should transfer the data to the new minister.
  7. Training the workers: currently, the workers of the private companies are mostly unskilled and less trained. The director of the renewable energy department told me that the workers of the private companies don’t get any training services from the ministry due to the security threat from Islamic extremist of Al-shabaab; this group may target those workers in case they interact with the government.
  8. Regulations from the Ministry of Electricity to private electricity companies: currently there are no regulations from the Ministry of Electricity to private electricity companies, so this should done as soon as possible.
  9. Safe and reliable electricity distribution system in the country. The current system is useless and complicated.
  10. Capacity building

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

I conducted this study in the capital city of Mogadishu, where I interviewed 5 representatives from the four working private companies in Mogadishu and ministry of electricity and water supply, also I contacted to different people in the other 17 regions in the country, they told me that private companies covered the electricity need of the capital cities of the regions, but other towns get difficulties with the availability of electricity, also I knew that mostly the people in the major cities of the country have access of internet, though it costs arm and leg,

It took me 18 days to finish this study I want to thank all people who helped me during this study, including electric companies and ministry it concerned, and some of my friends who connected me to some of the managers of the private companies.