— 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.