Over 100m Nigerians without electricity despite subsidies – presidency

THE presidency has expressed concerns that despite the interventions from the government on subsidies, over 100 million Nigerians still do not have access to consistent and affordable electricity.

The Special Adviser to the President on Energy, Olu Verheijen, who disclosed this development said the President Bola Tinubu-led administration was working to address foundational issues in the power sector to bridge the power access gap in the country.

Verheijen disclosed this in her opening remarks at the 7th Nigeria International Energy Summit (NIES) on Friday, March 1, 2024, in Abuja.

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Represented by the Team Lead-Power, Office of the Special Assistant on Energy to the President, Eriye Onagorowa, she said the lack of access directly impacted citizens’ ability to achieve meaningful income growth, as a lack of reliable electricity limits productivity and restricts economic expansion.

She noted that the link between electricity consumption and economic development was well established across different African countries with different income strata, with South Africa leading the pack while Nigeria remained at the bottom.

Verheijen said, “South Africa is leading the pack with about 23,392-kilowatt hours annually, which comes to about 1,949-kilowatt hours monthly. (The country is) “closely followed by Egypt, 9,639-kilowatt hours annually, which comes to about 800-kilowatt hours per month.

“Morocco, 7,237-kilowatt hours annually, comes to about 600 kilowatt hours monthly. Nigeria last and certainly the least, 2,548-kilowatt hour annually, translates to about 212 kilowatts per month”, she added.

She noted that the economic impact of energy poverty on economic development could not be overstated, adding that businesses that operate in environments like Nigeria continued to struggle with high operational costs and lower productivity, making them less competitive both globally and locally.

This, she argued, was affecting job creation and limiting income growth opportunities, stressing that for households, the lack of access to clean and reliable energy sources had profound implications for education and health, which she said were critical determinants of economic mobility.

According to her, Nigeria’s macroeconomic difficulties and unreliable power supply have severely impacted the productivity of the commercial and industrial sectors.

“Over the years, this has resulted in low productive use of electricity. This situation has led to a scenario where a disproportionate amount of the available power is consumed by the residential sector, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of final electricity consumption.

“Furthermore, over 70 per cent of Nigerians live below the middle-income international line of poverty, which is set at about $3.20 per day, rendering them unable to afford electricity access.

“The implication of this is a largely poor residential customer base, resulting in limited revenue for utilities. This in turn exacerbates the issue of reliability and affordability, as utilities find themselves unable to reinvest in expanding and enhancing the electricity infrastructure”, she noted.



    To address these challenges and unlock the economic potential of Nigeria’s energy sector, she maintained that it was crucial to shift focus towards growing the productive use of electricity, particularly in the nation’s commercial and industrial sectors.

    She said the sectors had a higher capacity to pay cost-reflective tariffs and were crucial for powering productivity and competitiveness.

    She explained further that by enhancing access to reliable electricity for this sector, the nation would stimulate job creation and increase economic and income growth.

    “This strategic focus not only aims to lift people out of poverty, but also strengthen the financial viability of the energy sector”, she stressed.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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