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Towards the ‘Nitelisation’ of NEPA _Part 2


Continued from yesterday

Hitherto all talk in this country has been of large power stations from where electricity is transmitted hundreds of miles to consumers in the far flung corners of this massive country. Even if a lot of power is generated, a substantial percentage of it is lost in the process of transmission and so, the first step that needs to be taken towards the maximisation of power supply is for power generation to be localised so that its distribution would also be a local affair. In this wise, the vulnerable high tension wires flying all over the country will be eliminated and faults in transmission will be much easier to trace and rectify whenever the need arises thereby improving distribution.

There is justifiable global concern about the use of clean energy and fortunately, Nigeria is very rich in natural gas which can be exploited to generate clean energy but the ultimate goal must be to switch over as much as possible to renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydro since the country is very rich in these sources. Solar energy can be harnessed in all parts of this country in the same way that our rivers can be used as sources of hydroelectricity so that all energy production from these sources can be local and in the same way as its consumption As at now, several countries are turning their face to the sun and installing solar panels and other paraphernalia to make it possible to generate power from the sun. Expectedly, some African countries are already doing this with Morocco and Rwanda taking the lead in this respect, so much so that Morocco has ambitious plans to generate power through gigantic solar installations which would produce enough power, not only to satisfy domestic needs but to export commercial quantities to some European countries. Serious research has been carried out over the last 20 years and the result of such research has made it possible for solar energy to be generated at increasingly lower cost. Solar panels, the heart of this technology, are not only becoming cheaper, they are also much more efficient than they were, bringing them within the range of affordability which includes people who can, in no stretch of the imagination, be described as well-heeled as indeed most Nigerians are.

The GSM revolution was achieved through the use of what was at the time, a new technology, a technology which at one stroke bypassed all those exchange buildings and miles of cable and is delivering the quality of service which was the stuff of dreams only a few years ago. When the GSM technology came to Nigeria, I was convinced that the level of poverty in the country was going to be a great barrier to its penetration but I was quickly proved wrong as today, this technology is in the hands of virtually everyone, even in the remotest parts of the country. The penetration of solar technology must be encouraged in the same way and this without spending money on a single power plant and of course without laying a single kilometre of transmission lines. With all those infernal generators blasting our sorry ears and disturbing our peace, it is clear that Nigerians are used to generating their own power and so, the use of a cleaner, safer, more reliable, and virtually maintenance free process of power generation will be enthusiastically embraced by Nigerians all over the country.

The time has come for government and the private sector to sit down together to evolve strategies which will enhance the utilisation of solar energy in Nigeria. For now, government should encourage the importation and distribution of the latest solar panels together with the batteries and inverters needed to harness the power of sunlight which floods our country everyday but is currently being wasted, at least for the process of power generation. It has to be said that Government herself is well placed to import huge quantities of these items which because of economics of scale will make the importation of each item much cheaper than it would otherwise have been. Since there is no gestation period to speak of, the result of this initiative will be immediate dramatic and deeply satisfying. What more, the effects will be manifest throughout the length and breadth of the country. In course of time, the manufacture and distribution o these inputs in Nigeria must follow so that many of our now unemployed youths will be put to work producing commodities which have a large and guaranteed market. And this is in addition to promoting the well being of the environment whilst solving a problem which has up till now been intractable.

This is the real meaning of giving power to the people!


Prof. Lamikanra contributed the piece via

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