World Agenda

Last updated: 15 december, 2009 - 13:30 GMT

A nation in darkness

BBC Hausa is running a series of special reports on Nigeria’s power problems and how acute power shortage may be inhibiting the country from realising its economic potentials.

Shiroro Dam, Nigeria

Shiroro Dam: Generates part of Nigeria's electricity

Nigeria, a nation of over 150 million people is the most populous black nation in the world. Despite its huge oil and gas reserves, it is a land of contrasts: extreme poverty still endures as the majority of the population lives below the poverty line. Its per capita income of US $1,160 is one of the lowest in the world. Industrial and agricultural outputs have plummeted, and the country is perceived by investors as one of the most difficult places to do business in.

Low capacity

At the heart of Nigeria’s poverty and low industrial output is its low electricity generation capacity. For over two decades, Nigeria’s electricity generation capacity has slowly dwindled.

Mechanics wait for the power to return in Nigeria

Small businesses are suffering as a result of power failure

Up until the early 1980s, the country had a steady supply of electricity. Industries and assembly plants flourished in various parts of the country. Power outages were unheard of.

But over the years, the situation has dramatically changed. Over 70 percent of the country’s industries and other small businesses have been forced to close. The existing ones are forced to run on diesel powered generators thereby transferring the cost to the consumer.

An ambitious dream?

The country now relies on only 2,900 megawatts which is far below what it requires to propel it to the league of 20 most industrialised nations before 2020.

Electricity has been a campaign issue and since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, billions of dollars have been spent on electricity generation with no visible result. One of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s campaign promises was that he would declare a state of emergency on the power problem in the country, but three years after winning the presidency, he has yet to keep his promise.

December promise

National electricity grid, Nigeria

Electricity has been a campaign issue since 1999

Consequently, Nigeria continues to top the list of generator-importing countries. This has led to more carbon emissions. The current plan by the government is to generate 6,000 megawatts by the end of the year.

In the Nigeria Electricity Series, BBC Hausa traces the country’s journey to darkness, and examines whether the government can reach its goal and meet its promises.

We also provide insight into how much money has been spent on lighting up the country in the last decade, and the role of corruption in preventing the work being carried out. Is solar technology, as an alternative source of power supply, a workable solution? And how is the electricity shortage affecting local businesses?

Nigeria Electricity Series: A Nation in Darkness broadcasts on click BBC Hausa from 14 to 27 December

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