Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa is getting darker and darker by the day due to incessant and often recurring power outages that have plagued the country for far too long. Unfortunately, power blackout in Nigeria is as old as Methuselah. The phenomenon is nothing new; it has been there for ages. However, it is a result of a long history of neglect, derisory maintenance, and inadequate investment in power generation by the past governments. So, the consistent power outage in Nigeria is emblematic of failed leadership of the past administrations.
But this time the frequency and scope of power failures have aided to bring the issue to the consciousness of populace that seethe in hopelessness. Power blackout has now been catapulted to a top national menace where everyday occurrence of power failures is harshly unbearable. It is affecting every aspect of the society and consequently the economy of Nigeria is suffering.
Disappointingly, the power blackout is massive and no area of the nation is immune from it. Some areas may be experiencing the worst of the power failures than others because of their frequency and duration. People are complaining bitterly about the situation, but their bitterness may be prolonged due to the illusory solution to the problem. I can personally empathize with people living in Nigeria because of my own experience.
I was in Nigeria in December 2015 and March 2016; also, I have been in the country every year since 2016, and there was no time we received power for up to two hours in a 24-hour period. In the summer 2019, there were periods where power would be taken after less than a minute it came on. Suffice to say that full current was a thing of the past. Some days we sweated it out without electricity at all and it made our stay miserable.
With the hot temperature in Nigeria, many of us could not sleep without air. The fall back generator was not enough to provide the quality air we needed. The situation could cause one to fall ill. But the people at the greatest risk for heat-related illnesses are old people, overweight people, infants and children, pregnant women, as well as people who have pre-existing conditions or are on certain type medical therapy. These are the most vulnerable population a nation has. The agony of the heat could be seen written all over their faces as they pray for succor.
It is undeniably clear that power is the engine of every nation’s economy. Thus, to propel the economy, a nation needs a reliable and consistent power supply. In other words, power outage impacts a country’s economy negatively. No group suffers more due to power failures than small-scaled industries and family businesses that depended heavily on power supply for the production of products and operation of their businesses. The business operations grind to a halt when power fails. In some cases series of equipment are affected because of sudden interruption of electricity.
In some cases the power outages are capable of completely shutting down the operations of small companies or big companies that are unprepared for the sudden and significant interruptions of power supply. With a sustained power blackout, some critical public and private infrastructures could be severely affected. Hospitals, airports, seaports, water supplies and supplies of other goods and services could completely come to a halt thereby impacting both the micro- and macro-economic elements of the nation.
The federal government should encourage the building of a robust and resilient electric power system. It should also look into alternative sources of energy. It should invest in the future as it acquires the latest technology. The electricity system should be operating old and antiquated equipment in the 21st century. Many countries are constantly investing in the future in regard to their energy supply because power is intertwined with every fabric of a nation. Also, updating the system with current technology would ensure that any interruption would be minimal. Fearing that the cost of severe power interruptions on the economy would be enormous, some countries work diligently to update their system constantly. They plan for the future.
On November 27, 2014, the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering published a report prepared for the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology on the cost of electricity blackout. The report stated that based on UK’s dependence on electricity supply, any “significant interruption to electricity supply would have severe economic consequence.”
“In this report we have looked at the methods used to quantify the economic risk and the social impact, and found them wanting.” says Dr. John Roberts CBE FREng, a member of the report working group.
“A nationwide blackout lasting for longer than 48 hours could have a severe impact on society; while this scenario is highly unlikely we saw only last winter the impact of severe weather on the south of the country, with power cuts over Christmas. There are obvious political impacts as well – our historical high levels of supply in the UK mean we are accustomed to continuous power supply.”
“Current estimates show that we need to spend upwards of £200 billion over the next decade to update and decarbonise our electricity supply infrastructure. We have not invested on that scale since the 1960s and we do not have a good yardstick to compare the potential cost of infrastructure investment with the cost to society of major power outages.”
Policymakers in Nigeria should understand that there are human and economic costs arising from incessant power outages. No one would be risible to be in the heat due to power failure, especially people who are suffering ailments.