CLAIM: 93 million Nigerians lack access to electricity, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
MISLEADING: It is evident that data from relevant institutions in the energy sector stand at variance with the claim and in some cases, each other. Hence, consequent on the vast population in Nigeria and the absence of any such metric of measurement, it is difficult to categorically ascertain a figure for this stat. At best, the claim is the personal opinion of the speaker.
Last week Thursday, the news claiming that 93 million Nigerians lack access to electricity filled the media space. Reported by platforms like Vanguard, PM News, Platform Times and Pulse, who all credited the report to one earlier published by the News Agency of Nigeria.
The Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Clean Tech Hub was cited as the origin of the claim; well, the workshop held to be exact. Mr Mark Amanza, facilitator at the Clean Tech Hub workshop remarked on the large percentage of the Nigerian populace without access to electricity. 55% which corresponds to 93 million was the statistic cited. The workshop focused on the substitution of inefficient energy sources for clean ones. The aforementioned NGO, Clean Tech Hub focuses on research, policy development and consumer awareness on climate resilience.
Electricity and Power Generation in Nigeria
Electricity availability in the country has had a storied history ever since 1896 when power was first generated. The power sector has gone through rebranding, privatization efforts and several reforms. We all remember when the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) changed its name to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) as a result of the power sector reforms.
Currently, saddled with the responsibility of generating and distributing electricity in Nigeria is the Generation Company of Nigeria (GENCOS), Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) and the Distribution Company of Nigeria (DISCOS). This development was of course brought about by the privatisation of the power sector in 2013. Six years later, the Power Sector is still in need of reforms. Just the other week, the Federal Government (under President Buhari) announced that the power sector will get another intervention of N600bn.
This will be the third intervention from the Federal Government since the privatisation in 2013. N213bn and N701bn were previously injected into the sector in 2014 and 2017 respectively. Additionally, the Government also signed an agreement with electricity giant, Siemens which will lead to the production of 25,000 megawatts of electricity by 2025. This was a sequel to the meeting between President Buhari and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel in 2018. The above and several others remain part of the country’s effort to assuage the prevalent electricity challenges. The Rural Electrification Agency is one of such efforts.
These and more as well as the record low power generation of 2,854.3MW buttress the relevance of the claim; and perhaps, may have even prompted it.
A mail sent to Rural Electrification Agency, a Federal Government agency saddled with the responsibility of providing electricity to rural communities in Nigeria for clarifications is yet to be responded to as of the time of filing this report.
However, checks by Tribune Online show that the claim is similar to a 2018 report credited to Power for All. The claim was made by the country Director of Power for All and Managing Director of Clean Technology, Mrs. Ifeoma Malo at a workshop. The aforementioned company, is an international organization campaigning for the provision of electricity in many African countries. As seen in the Vanguard, Legit and All Africa publications.
A closer look at Power for All showed a different figure for the number of Nigerians who don’t have access to electricity. Information on the website shows that Nigeria with a population of 186 million has achieved 57.7% energy access while only 75 million people in Nigeria live without electricity. A July 18, 2019, publication on the website gives a different stat as well. The publication titled, “Powering Jobs Census 2019: Focus on Nigeria” stated that the country has successfully electrified 65% of its population as of 2018.
Further research led to the International Energy Agency (IEA), a Paris-based autonomous intergovernmental organization. In its 2017 Energy Access Outlook, it stated that Nigeria achieved an 86% energy access in urban Nigeria and a 34% energy access in rural Nigeria. The agency also put the Nigerian population without access to electricity at 74 million.
Also, the World Bank-funded Nigeria Electrification Project shows that nearly 80 million people in Nigeria currently lack access to electricity. The project is aimed at expanding cost-efficient access to electricity in the country.
An October 04 2018 publication by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) titled “Off-Grid Solar to Power Nigeria” also corroborated this claim. In the report, it was stated that approximately 80 million people lack access to electricity.
It is evident that data from relevant institutions in the energy sector stand at variance with the claim and in some cases, each other. Consequent on the vast population in Nigeria and the absence of any such metric of measurement, it is difficult to categorically ascertain a figure for this stat. At best, the claim is the personal opinion of the speaker. It is thus MISLEADING.