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Massive Blackouts Rob 85M Nigerians of Power Access

Power lines and a steel pylon against the blue evening sunset sky. High voltage electricity distribution network concept with copy space.

Nigeria faces a daunting electricity crisis, with over 85 million citizens living without access to power, according to recent studies. This staggering figure represents nearly half the country’s population, making Nigeria the nation grappling with the world’s largest number of people lacking electrification.

The ramifications of this widespread darkness are severe, acting as a fundamental barrier to human development and economic growth. Without reliable electricity, providing essential services like modern healthcare, education, and economic opportunities becomes an uphill battle. Lack of power suppresses productivity across sectors, stifling progress in agriculture, industry, and entrepreneurship.

Recognizing the urgency of this crisis, government authorities and development organizations are prioritizing mapping the chronically under-electrified communities and regions. This crucial data provides insights to craft targeted electrification strategies tailored to local needs and resources.

At the forefront of these efforts, the World Resources Institute (WRI) is leading a cross-sector collaboration aimed at developing an open-source digital mapping platform. By integrating data across government ministries, utilities, businesses, and community groups, this platform illuminates the precise locations lacking electricity access.

“Granular mapping data is vital for effective electrification planning,” explains Dimitris Mendis, who heads WRI’s Energy Access Explorer initiative. “With an integrated view of underserved areas and their unique characteristics, we can model the optimal energy solutions to get them reliably powered.”

In parallel to enhancing data mapping, the Nigerian government is taking decisive policy action to drive down renewable energy costs and accelerate clean energy deployment nationwide. The current administration is implementing a slate of incentives aimed at “crashing the cost” of solar, wind, and other renewables.

“We’re reducing import duties on renewable components and catalyzing domestic manufacturing,” said Michael Ivenso, climate director at Nigeria’s Council on Climate Change. “Local production drastically lowers costs and creates jobs by eliminating exposure to currency fluctuations.”

Ivenso underscored that innovative financing solutions, like affordable payback plans, will also be critical to empower households, businesses, and communities to access clean, distributed renewable electricity.

While the scale of Nigeria’s electrification challenge is immense, a multi-pronged strategy centering on collaborative data mapping, renewable deployment incentives, and accessible financing offers a pragmatic path to illuminate the tens of millions still living in darkness.

However, rapid and coordinated action across sectors will be essential to turn this light bulb moment into lasting transformation, finally electrifying and empowering the communities sustaining Nigeria’s development. The race to power the nation’s future is on.

Izu Mgbaemena

I'm Izu Mgbaemena, a Nigerian-based writer for Naijadazz. I love sharing stories about Nigerian culture, food, music and more. As a frequent contributor to Naijadazz, I relish the opportunity to showcase the endlessly fascinating aspects of Nigerian culture to a global audience.