Rural Electrification In Nigeria
Challenges And Prospects Of Rural Electrification In Nigeria
The challenges facing rural electrification in Nigeria are myriad; some are unique in their form while many are inherent to the rural communities. These challenges cover a wide range of factors ranging from technical, political, economic, financial and social issues.
Technical difficulties facing rural electrification relate to the designing and maintenance of an effective project for rural electrification.
The main challenge in this regard is the designing of an electrical distribution system for a dispersed population which will be cost effective, relatively stable, affordable and environmentally friendly.
Also, there is the challenge of maintaining such a system so as to provide an acceptable level of power availability efficiently and cheaply.
Most rural communities in Nigeria are geographically located in difficult and inaccessible terrains making access to such communities difficult for installation of electrical facilities or expansion of grid networks.
Furthermore, the low population densities in the rural communities result in high capital and operating costs for electricity companies since the electricity distribution costs must be spread over relatively few people, resulting in high costs for each unit of electricity consumed.
Local communities and individual farmers in most rural communities in Nigeria constantly cause difficulties over rights of way for the construction and maintenance of electricity facilities, owing to prioritization of farming and agricultural activities oversupply of electricity.
Also, the rural-urban migration drift results in less population in the rural communities and this further reduces the population density with its attendant effects on cost of electricity. World Bank (2010) reveals that the percentage of rural population in Nigeria significantly reduced from 76 percent in 1971 to 50.1 percent in 2009, due largely to rural-urban migration.
Economic and Financial Challenges
This is by far the most important challenge facing rural electrification in Nigeria. The economic cost of supplying electricity to rural communities is relatively high and unaffordable by the rural population.
This problem is further compounded by the high poverty rate in Nigeria. World Bank (2010) statistics reveal that 75 percent of the rural population in Nigeria live below the poverty line.
Therefore, a combination of an unfavorable economic environment, high costs of supplying electricity to rural communities and high poverty ratio in rural areas has proved a considerable challenge to of rural electrification in the country.
There is the challenge of identifying rural electrification as a key priority for development by the political elites in the country and the development of an effective framework for rural electrification in the country.
Successive governments in Nigeria have constantly relegated this aspect of national development to the background, resulting in the absence of concrete governmental policies to tackle the endemic problem of rural electrification.
Notwithstanding these challenges, there are future prospects for rural electrification in Nigeria.
The abundance of natural resources in most rural communities and growing modernization of access facilities to the rural communities in Nigeria means that there are sufficient facilities available to support efforts at improving and expanding the provision of sustainable access to electricity in the rural areas.
Furthermore, the Federal Government of Nigeria in 2005 enacted the National Electricity Policy of Nigeria which highlighted rural electrification as one of the cornerstone of the government’s drive at improving electricity access in the country.
This was followed by the restructuring and revamping of the Rural Electrification Board of Nigeria to effectively implement the government’s rural electrification policies.