It is no news that Nigeria is experiencing energy poverty as the capacity of electricity being distributed by the distribution companies to the populace is far less than the demanded. A rule of thumb posits 1,000MW to one million people. With an all-time national peak of 5,459.50 megawatts (MW) recorded as at October 28, 2020 for a population of over 200 million people, it shows there is a wide gap between the supply and the demand for electric power.
This has resulted to a lot of social economic challenges as skilled men who require electricity for work now look for alternative means to put food on their tables. This has also resulted to the closing down of businesses, worsening the problem of unemployment in the nation.
With the advent of renewable energy and solar being a mature and more reliable technology, many Nigerians now find succour in solar energy as a means to surmount the overwhelming challenges being faced as a result of erratic power supply in the nation.
The harm caused by epileptic power supply cannot be over-emphasized and hence the youth have to get involved. A look at the Nigeria’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative Action Agenda, which is the country’s implementation document for the global Sustainable Energy for All will suffice. It shows Nigeria’s commitment towards global sustainable development and links to the country’s policy and regulatory documents on sustainable energy such as the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEEP), the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP), the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP), and Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the COP 21 Paris Agreement.
One of its targets is to drop the population living without energy access from 60 per cent in 2015 to about 10 per cent by 2030. A good approach is to empower the youth in the solar energy space through quality training, internship opportunities and becoming clean energy advocate for the future.
One of such initiatives is the internship program for young girls in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) during the project development for the energizing education project of the Federal Government through the rural electrification agency.
The Energising Education Programme (EEP) being implemented by the REA to provide sustainable and clean power supply to 37 federal universities and seven university teaching hospitals across Nigeria creates an avenue for the training of 180 female STEM students (20 from each benefiting university) during the construction phase of the project, which serves as a catalyst towards ensuring sustainability of the project and building young women for the future in renewable energy.
A lot of opportunities abound ranging from solar designers, installers, distributors and trainers to mention but a few. Private bodies and individuals also need to emulate the activities of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) by supporting the skill development, training and empowerment of youths in the solar energy sector to become power agents deploying energy solutions to the remotest part of the country and cities thereby helping to improve businesses and society.
In spite of the low electricity supply, everyone has to practice energy efficiency and conservation, ensure you use electricity when you need to and replace your gadget to energy efficient ones, thereby helping to use what we presently have judiciously for economic development. Government should further help to introduce modules on energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy into the curriculum of primary schools, high schools and higher institutions.
Abiodun Ojobaro is a professional energy auditor and a technical manager at Etiwa Tech, Lagos, Nigeria. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.