Why unreliable power keeps poor countries poor

By 13th March 2018Nigeria
Why unreliable power keeps poor countries poor

Chimago Nnodim is a young entrepreneur based in the state of Imo, southern Nigeria. He’d always dreamt of building a business and providing jobs for the young people in his community. Three years ago, that dream became a reality when he used a bank loan to set a factory producing sachet water. Buying a truck for distribution, he took on ten local young people to run his operation.

Demand for purified sachet water is high, but like millions of business-owners in sub-Saharan Africa, Chimago hasn’t been able to expand. The culprit is Nigeria’s disastrously unstable power supply, dubbed “epileptic power” by locals. The result is that Chimago has to spend the equivalent of tens of thousands of pounds on an expensive and dirty diesel generator.

“The deplorable power situation forced me to use generator always”, he says. “In fact, we get electricity about two times a week, if we are lucky. Even when there is electricity, it does not last more than two hours. Worse still, it fluctuates, as there is low voltage. Consequently, there are leakages in our production. That is our predicament in this community.”

Imagine trying to build and grow a business with only two hours of power each week. It’s why reliable, 24/7 electricity is so essential to solving Africa’s poverty, and why intermittent renewables can’t do the job on their own. To create the jobs that are needed to secure his country’s future, entrepreneurs like Chimago have to be able to access low-cost reliable power.