Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
More than 60 percent (600 million) of the one billion people globally lacking access to electricity are in Africa, an academic says, with Nigeria having the largest share of that number due to its population size of close to 200 million inhabitants, the largest on the continent.
Deputy Vice Chancellor (Development Services), University of Lagos, Prof Folasade Ogunsola, disclosed this in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, when she spoke at the seventh annual public lecture of the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA).
Ogunsola highlighted reasons why Nigeria and Africa must embrace the use of renewable solar energy to increase access to electricity on the continent.
Although not giving an exact figure (the World Bank estimates about 80 million), Ogunsola attributed the low electricity access to high population growth rate and uneven development in the country, adding that the digital revolution requires energy and that that the Federal Government must urgently work out how to control Nigeria’s demographic explosion.
According to the academic, unless the country’s population is controlled, infrastructure development will not match a geometrically growing demographic. She added that Nigeria needs data for the future, saying the health institutions in the country must be positioned to digitise patient records in an electronic management system.
She noted that very few countries in the world spend over one per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on research, adding that Nigeria, however, spends less than one per cent of her GDP on research, calling on government to give priority to investing in human capital development.
“The digital revolution is dependent on energy. The access rate to electricity in Africa has been slowly rising since 2000 and currently stands at 43 per cent. But Africa accounts for 600 million of the one billion people globally without access to electricity.
“The projection for sub-saharan Africa is that access will double by 2030, but there will still be about 600 million without access due to high population growth rates and uneven development. This low rate of access can be turned to a major advantage with the embrace of renewable energy such as solar energy.”
The, Provost College of Medicine, UI, Prof Oluwabunmi Olopade-Olaopa, who represented the Vice Chancellor, UI, Prof Idowu Olayinka, enjoined African researchers to conduct locally relevant research capable of lifting the continent into global power status. African scientists, he said, are more than ever relevant to solving Africa’s problems.