One of the propensities at the heart of every nation and the world at large today is energy transition. Which is generally taken as a concept of developing effective and efficient energy sectors in a given state without having negative impacts on the present and future socio-environmental security of that state. In view of the foregoing, we will look into the global energy transition in the Nigerian power sector.

Energy in Sub Saharan Africa

So many countries have taken remarkably giant strides towards actualizing such paramount objectives to suit modern energy needs and supply requirements. Research brought to the limelight that over 50% percent of the total reported impoverished people that are without access to electricity globally reside in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region. The largest portion of these people, who are up to 40 million lives in Nigeria, being the country with the highest population in Africa.  The population of Nigeria and other African countries is growing by the day and so is the number of impoverished Africans.

Nigerian Power Sector and Global Energy Transition

The global society is now taking giant strides towards a sustainable future, being in the spotlight that every national energy system will be, in the coming decade, impacted by the changes in climate, rapid technological advancement, and transformation in energy supply and demand. This has imminently necessitated the urgent need for an energy transition from the current fossil-based systems of energy, which are contributing massively to the climate change and instability of electricity in Nigeria, to zero-carbon systems.

However, the global energy transformation is driven by the quest for alleviating the effects of climate change via the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxides, and carbon monoxides, associated and perpetuated by the burning of fossil fuels. The menace of climate change and its devastating impact on the globe is being perpetuated by the emission of unburned natural gas from oil and gas facilities which are increasing the rate of carbon content in the atmosphere.

Numerous studies have shown that 85% percent of the world’s energy is generated from fossil or carbon-based fuels. However, carbon dioxide contributes 76% to the world’s total emission of greenhouse gases as the result of the incessant use of carbon-based energy generators. Undeniably, this makes carbon-based fuels the greatest contributor to climate change and global warming, posing great challenges to the world. The cases of greenhouse gases that are being emitted from the burning of fossil fuels absorb infrared radiation from the sun and therefore restrict it from escaping through the atmosphere by reradiating it on the earth’s surface which is consequently amounting to the rise in temperatures.

Over almost two decades, the energy crisis has been a clog in the wheel of Nigeria by crippling the power sector. Which consequently amounts to the menace of poverty by paralyzing commercial and industrial activities during such a period. The loss being caused by the poor power sector in Nigeria is astonishing. And it was estimated by the Council for Renewable Energy of Nigeria that power outages are amounting to a loss of 126 billion nairas annually.

Besides the huge income loss being caused by power outages, it has also been amounting to health hazards. Due to the exposure to carbon emissions as the result of incessant use of energy and power generators that are carbon-based in numerous business enterprises and houses, etc. That is massively resulting in the deterioration of living conditions. Carbon monoxide has as well resulted in the loss of many lives where residents have been careless to use carbon-based generators indoors overnight.

More so, in 1985 the Central Bank estimated that Nigeria consumed 8,771,870 tonnes of oil. This is equivalent to 180,000 barrels of oil a day. Ever since then, the rapid increase in the population rate is more than enough reason to say that the consumption and demand for power have drastically increased. The effect of the over-dependence of Nigeria on oil as the major source of power and revenue cannot be overemphasized. Having reported by the defunct Department for Petroleum Resources that petroleum amounts to almost 80% of the total energy consumption in Nigeria.

Having in mind the current energy crisis in the nation, it is open that fossil fuel (petroleum) can not be sufficient to meet the energy needs of the country that is ever-increasing by day. Additionally, Nigeria has an abundance of renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, tidal, biomass, and hydroelectric. Therefore it should not be a mere propensity but one of the foremost priorities of the government to take virtue of these resources and chart a new sustainable energy future for Nigeria. In this regard, the government should take upon its shoulders the responsibility to make renewable energy available and affordable to all.

Despite the pivotal support of energy in the provision of essential human needs such as food, a convenient living temperature, lighting, the use of electrical appliances, commerce, manufacturing, industry, essential health care facilities, educational aids, communication, and transport among others. Plus the agreement was made at the recently concluded COP26 Conference on Climate Change, where several nations, including Nigeria, reassured their commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement and adopted climate change policies on decarbonization and carbon-neutral by 2050 or 2060.

It’s undeniable and unfortunate that Nigeria has appeared somewhat flat-footed for the sustainable energy transitioning; even though it does not take keen observation to see the impact that the transformation may have upon the currently unstable power sectors and the entire economic aspects of the nation.

In view of the energy transition as the essential recipe for an effective and efficient power sector, Nigeria’s minister of power stated during a press conference in August 2021 that “the energy transition for Nigeria will feature both clean energy technologies and natural gas. With the aim of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Nigeria has developed an Energy Transition Plan on pathways to achieving universal access by 2030 and net-zero targets by 2050.” This has certainly given more than an impression that awareness regarding the necessity of energy transition and its impact is being made, and steps are as well being taken.

Having seen the pivotal role of energy in human existence, the impact of the global energy transition on the Nigerian power sector and other important aspects of the country can not in any way be overemphasized. It has been obvious that the power sector of every nation is the spine of its development, hence energy is an aspect without which a nation can not do. It’s hard for one not to see the great damage being made by the instability and unavailability of power in every aspect of Nigeria, ranging from social to economic aspects.

Therefore, radically viewing the energy crisis in Nigeria, energy transition is not merely of some impacts but of great impacts on the Nigerian power sector, the Federal Government’s endeavor to elevate the energy production in the country by investing in solar power can succinctly be said to be auspicious. Hence Nigeria is a tropical country having quite a large amount of insolation coming from the sun, the federal government has engaged solar companies such as Arnergy, Hansa Energy in Nigeria to help in the mass production of sustainable solar plants and the supply of solar systems for households, business enterprises and so on.  

Undoubtedly, power stabilization is the greatest leap the power sector could give to the populace, but the surest path to stability in the Nigerian power sector is energy transition. Therefore, the most important impact of the global energy transition on the Nigerian power sector that must come to the forefront is stabilizing the power, as the damages and losses being caused by power outages have been coming to the front burner of so many newspapers, including the report by the Council for Renewable Energy of Nigeria that power outages are annually amounting to the loss of 126 billion naira in Nigeria, global energy transition undoubtedly will contribute massively in advancing the power sector of Nigeria by harnessing the current bedeviling energy crisis and making the power so affordable. Via this vein, the socio-economic aspect of Nigeria too would be rapidly advanced.

Moreover, Nigeria over-depends on fossil fuel (petroleum and gas) as the major source of energy and revenue, whereas it is open that fossil fuel (petroleum and gas) can not be sufficient to meet the energy needs of the country that is ever-increasing by day. This gives even a casual observer the clue that global energy transitioning would have a great and significant impact on the Nigerian power sector and the socioeconomic aspect of the state at large. Therefore, Nigeria in its bids to have sustainable energy and a future via the global energy transition should have the over-dependence on fossil fuels reserved by having the right policies for the regulation of that. There should be adequate legislation that will curtail the level of generator importations and the time in which the total ban on their importation will be imposed. The ban on the use of carbon-emitting generators will push Nigerians towards the use of renewable energy.

Solar Energy in The Nigerian Power Sector

The solar and wind energy regime of the country should be aggressive since the fallow sunlight has been found to generate massive energy for millions of households and business enterprises across the state. The two seasons in Nigeria (dry and rainy seasons) are enabling room for maximum renewable power generation. The hydro energy could be adequately put in place during the rainy season and both solar and wind energy could be maximally generated and used in the dry season.

The Nigerian power sector has also seen a boost through the generation of solar power by a sizable number of households even though it is still relatively expensive due to the small number of solar power firms in the country. Via this vein, the energy transition would significantly impact the Nigerian power sector by making the power affordable and available to people. Thus, the number of impoverished people in the nation who have no access to energy would be lessened by quite a large percentage. 

Towards achieving that, Nigeria should be committed not only to lips services in its bid to decarbonize, it should equally pave sustainable ways for independent energy generators to provide renewable and sustainable energy to the teeming population. The level of population growth should go hand in hand with the renewable energy being generated. Paving the way for independent energy vendors will speed up the target of attaining the 2050 target. If nothing is done in this vein, the losses being recorded will also impact the socio-economic aspect, and the crime rate will be on the rise which will consequently cripple every sort of socioeconomic and socio-cultural aspect of the country.

Conclusively, the future of energy in Nigeria will no longer be bleak if all hands are placed on deck to conform to the contemporary global practices and to meet all resolutions in the International conferences dwelling on global warming. Nigeria should rise and commit all resources geared towards energy transition, thus the power sector is the spine of the development of each and every state. When heed is radically paid to the global energy transitioning, one can presently catch more than a glimpse but a clear sight of Nigeria as a nation with an advanced power sector, a pleasant living environment, and stable and efficient socioeconomic aspects.

Hisham Saleh Gidado

Hisham Saleh Gidado is a poet, essayist and short story writer from Gombe state, Nigeria. He's a 100l Law student at Gombe State University. Hisham is the Assistant Project Manager of Gombe Jewel Writers Association, Current Affairs Editor at Today Post Newspaper and Secretary at Hilltop Creative Art Foundation, Gombe Chapter. He was a winner to many literary competitions, including the 2020 Halimafactor Initiative Intermediary Essay Writing Competition and 2021 Bill Ward’s Prize for Emerging Writers. Many of Hisham's write ups have been published by both local, national and international Newspapers and magazines such as: Applied Worldwide, World Voices Magazine, Dailytrust newspaper, Blueprint newspaper, Todayposts newspaper, The Nation newspaper, etc.