Statista.com “Ranking of the countries with the highest quality of electricity supply in 2017/18 writes: “In today´s culture, many people cannot imagine life without electricity. It has become a global necessity and a part of the everyday life of many people. Life without electricity is almost impossible – it can be difficult and slow. The importance of electricity can be seen throughout various fields of human activity: engineering, communication and transport, entertainment, and surgery…”

Ricardo Falcon on June 26, 2015 in an article titled “How can Africa develop its electricity infrastructure?” writes: “Little is as critical for economic progress as a reliable electricity supply. In Africa, the lack thereof has taken a heavy toll on regional integration, productivity and competitiveness.”

On March 11, 2016 CNBC Africa reported that “Only four in 10 Africans have access to a reliable power supply, according to a survey by Afrobarometer.” The report uses Nigeria as an example and reads: “In a striking example, 96 per cent of Nigerians are connected, but only 18 per cent of those connections work “most of the time” or “always.”

Yomi Kazeem on April 19, 2016 drew up a comparative analysis showing the percentage population with access to electricity, population rate connected to a national grid and the share of these connections with stable and reliable power in Africa using the data provided by Afrobarometer. He concluded: “These charts show reliable electricity is still a luxury for more than half of Africa.” According to the charts, countries like Mauritius have 100 % of the population connected to national grid and a corresponding 100 % of these connections have reliable power. Again, South Africa have about 96 per cent connected and more than 80 per cent with reliable power. However, Nigeria has an access rate of 90% and a connection rate of 96% but a low reliable power supply rate of 18%. So, how did countries like Mauritius and South Africa achieve their electric power stability and reliability? And why is so hard for this supposed ´giant of Africa´ (Nigeria) to follow suit. Are we also playing politics with this necessity of human life?

It is very sad, offensive and annoying to read that “more than a century after the intervention of the light bulb, a majority of Africans are still in the dark, either intermittently or constantly” and the CNN or World Bank reports which confirms that “The 48 countries of Sub-Saharan Africa (with a combined population of 800 million) generate roughly the same amount of power as Spain (with a population of 45 million). As embarrassing as these reports are but reality is upon us.

While these same reports acknowledge that “there are signs of improvements” because Renewable energy investments are on the rise, these reports note that “hydropower has a huge unlocked potential: while it already represents one fifth of the overall production, only 10 percent of the estimated potential is being utilized.” And now my question: what is hindering the utilization and unlocking of the potential of hydropower for which I know Nigeria is blessed with? What about the solar energy? Is it that we lack the manpower or the technical know-how about these things? Or is it about money? How much do our political office holders run away with in the name of salaries and allowances? And what is the need for excessive foreign reserves without meeting these bare needs? If we could employ Julius Berger and other foreign companies to build our roads and bridges, can´t we employ a foreign energy generation company to help us generate and manage electric power? Even if we lacked the money, can´t we borrow to facilitate this, if we could borrow to pay salaries? Let it not be what I am thinking, that we are playing politics with a basic need like electric power generation and supply in this country.

Just imagine the embarrassments. Due to the lack of reliable electric power supply, Nigeria with over 200 million population has become the dumping ground for all types and brands of generators from China, Japan and other Asian countries. An average Nigerian owns a generator even if it is the so-called “I better pass my neighbour.” Yet every day we talk about creating employment opportunities, we discuss about improving the economy. We discuss about improving education, the health sector etc.  How can this be possible without reliable electricity? For instance, energy can facilitate the development of schools, and help teachers gain access to a wide variety of teaching mechanisms especially in this computer age. There is no short cut if we must realize these. The simple key is a reliable electricity. This is the key. In this 21st century and the growing impact and indispensability of the cyberspace, just point out to me any aspect of the economy and human life that doesn’t require electricity. I tell you, there is none!

It is time, our leaders become proactive and stop playing politics! They should collectively find ways of solving our electricity problems. But come to think of it, how much will this cost? What did it cost Mauritius, Egypt, Tunisia and South Africa? For me, it cost nothing but the political will and the determination to achieve this. We should start thinking of the good of this country than our individual pockets, if not posterity will not forgive us. Please help me tell our leaders to stop playing politics with electric power generation: We need stable and reliable electricity in this country! It is not a luxury rather a basic need.

Valentine Umoh