Oil rich, electricity poor. What will it take to solve Nigeria's energy crisis?

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Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer but the west African nation struggles to meet its energy needs, a struggle that has persisted for many decades.

On Monday, authorities in the country said they disbursed over 3.2 billion dollars to support power supply to Nigerians in the last five years. Godwin Emefiele who is head of the country’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said the monies were disbursed to electricity Generating and Distribution companies to acquire equipment or to buy meters and improve electricity supply in the country.

Yet Nigerians have continued to battle poor power supply with the situation worsening last week when the country’s power grid collapsed twice causing a huge black out across most parts of the country.

A 24 hour radio station stopped went off air announcing moments before it could not run operations into the night. Telecommunications giant MTN also announced a temporary disruption to its services and operations across the country as a result of the lack of power supply. But this is not the first time that power grid collapses in the nation of over 200 million people.

According to TheCable, there were power grid collapses in February, May, July, and August of 2021 and there have been about “206 collapses between 2010 and 2019.” So why was the power grid of last week different?

Power Grid "Full System" Collapse

Nigeria’s power generation is mostly thermal and hydro and has an installed capacity of nearly 13,000 megawatts. But for many years, authorities manage to dispatch only about 4,500 megawatts of its installed capacity. By contrast, South Africa’s total domestic electricity generation capacity is over 58,000 megawatts (MW) from all sources including coal which is by far the major energy source. But South Africa has a population of nearly 60 million according to 2020 figures and Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation and ranks tops amongst the biggest economies on the continent.

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