Nigeria has half the population of the US but generates only 1 percent as much electricity. This is despite the fact that Nigeria has 3 billion metric tonnes of coal in the ground and some of the world’s largest gas reserves.
And it gets worse. Nigeria’s population is growing. Around 2045, the country’s population is set to surpass that of the United States, meaning tens of millions of new Nigerian consumers and job-seekers needing even greater amounts of energy.
One estimate puts Nigerian national power demand at 213 gigawatts by 2040, yet on current trends the government is likely to fall way short. Today Nigeria produces just 4 gigawatts, while a UN initiative is focused on generating 45GW from renewable energy by 2030: way below what is needed.
As development expert Dr Todd Moss told the US Senate recently, the implications of this are incredibly serious:
“The specter of a Nigeria that cannot come close to meeting its growing population’s demands for jobs and modern lifestyles—all underpinned by high volumes of energy—should be alarming.”
Without massive amounts of additional energy in the system, economic growth and job creation can’t possibly keep up with population growth, meaning a jobless and poverty-stricken future for tens of millions of young Nigerians.
The populous West African country is a vital partner in the fight against terrorism, disease and international criminal networks. We simply cannot afford for it to become a failed state like Afghanistan. Yet that’s exactly what will happen if it fails to solve its energy crisis.