• Thursday, May 23, 2024
businessday logo


Empowering communities: sharing knowledge and opportunities in Nigeria’s energy landscape

Forging alliances: Onshore and offshore collaboration driving success in African energy ventures

By Toyin Banjo

With a fast-rising population and an industrialising economy, it is critical to ensure reliable and long-term access to energy. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and greatest economy, is facing enormous issues in the energy sector. Traditional means of energy provision have frequently failed, leaving many Nigerians without access to electricity. In response to these issues, community engagement has emerged as a significant driver of change in the country’s energy sector.

Historically, Nigeria’s energy sector has encountered issues due to inadequate infrastructure, ineffective governance, and limited access to electricity, especially in rural areas. Centralised techniques used to dominate energy distribution, resulting in inequities in access and reliability. The lack of community involvement in energy programs worsened these problems, impeding sustainable development and economic growth.

Read also: A call to action: Strengthening HSE governance for a safer, cleaner energy future in Nigeria

Nigeria’s energy economy relies heavily on fossil fuels, particularly oil and gas. However, the country confronts significant obstacles in this area, such as insufficient infrastructure, poor energy delivery, and widespread energy poverty. Many rural communities lack access to dependable energy, requiring them to rely on costly and environmentally hazardous alternatives like diesel generators.

Several successful programmes highlight the importance of community empowerment and knowledge sharing in Nigeria’s energy sector. The Solar Nigeria Programme, funded by the UK government, has aided in the deployment of off-grid solar solutions in rural communities, powering thousands of homes and businesses.

Another striking case study demonstrating the power of community empowerment in Nigeria’s energy sector is the off-grid revolution in rural areas. Initiatives like the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) have accelerated the deployment of off-grid solutions including solar mini-grids and decentralised energy systems, allowing local communities to take control of their energy needs. Projects like the Solar Power Naija program have delivered electricity to distant villages, changing people’s lives by providing clean energy for homes, schools, and businesses.

 “Communities use peer-to-peer learning networks to share best practices, troubleshoot problems, and collaborate on developing sustainable energy solutions that are tailored to their specific needs.”

Despite these developments, Nigeria still faces severe hurdles in its energy sector. The national grid remains unreliable, causing regular power outages in both urban and rural locations. Limited access to energy stifles economic growth, impedes healthcare delivery, and stifles educational progress. Furthermore, reliance on fossil fuels adds to environmental deterioration and exacerbates climate change, emphasising the need for sustainable energy solutions.

Promoting community ownership, investing in renewable energy, reforming policies and regulatory frameworks, building capacity and transferring technology, and fostering public-private partnerships are all viable solutions.

Community knowledge sharing: A catalyst for change

Community knowledge sharing is key to Nigeria’s energy revolution. Traditional wisdom, when joined with modern technology and inventive solutions, has become a potent force for change. Communities use peer-to-peer learning networks to share best practices, troubleshoot problems, and collaborate on developing sustainable energy solutions that are tailored to their specific needs. This bottom-up approach not only improves energy availability but also builds community resilience and promotes local ownership.

Sharing knowledge is the first step towards empowering communities in Nigeria’s energy sector. Communities must have access to knowledge of renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency techniques, and sustainable energy solutions. Workshops, training programs, and community outreach activities all play an important role in sharing knowledge and strengthening community capacity.

Read also: Time to activate green energy and the Electricity Act 2023 following the electricity tariff hike

Community-driven initiatives, such as energy cooperatives and microgrid projects, enable people to take charge of their energy future. By encouraging collaboration and community decision-making, these projects allow communities to implement decentralised energy solutions that are adapted to their individual needs. Furthermore, knowledge exchange promotes innovation and entrepreneurship, allowing local enterprises to engage in the rapidly expanding renewable energy sector.

Empowering communities in Nigeria’s energy landscape promotes access to clean and inexpensive energy, while also creating chances for economic development. Renewable energy initiatives, such as solar mini-grids and biomass systems, have the potential to boost local economies by generating employment, attracting investment, and encouraging entrepreneurship. Furthermore, decentralised energy solutions lessen dependency on imported fossil fuels, which improves energy security and economic resilience.

Collaboration among the government, corporate sector entities, and civil society organisations is critical for realising Nigeria’s full energy potential. Policy frameworks that encourage renewable energy installations, improve market access for small-scale producers, and promote community ownership are critical for promoting sustainable development. Furthermore, financial instruments such as grants, subsidies, and low-interest loans can serve to remove entry barriers and allow communities to engage in clean energy infrastructure.

To achieve sustainable development goals and eliminate energy poverty in Nigeria, communities must be empowered through knowledge exchange and opportunities in the energy sector. Communities can create resilient energy systems that improve livelihoods, stimulate economic growth, and safeguard the environment by leveraging the potential of renewable energy technology and encouraging local ownership. Collaboration among stakeholders is essential for overcoming obstacles and realising the full potential of Nigeria’s energy transformation. As the country strives for energy access and sustainability, community empowerment remains a key driver of growth.


About Author:

Toyin Banjo is the Vice Chairman of BonnyLight Energy and Offshore Limited as well as the Chief Executive Officer of Oriental Capital and Asset Management Group. He has decades of experience in the financial sector, oil and gas, real estate development, and the export of agricultural commodities. Mr. Banjo has decades of experience in capital raising (debt, equities, and hybrids) and financial advisory services (mergers and acquisitions, corporate restructuring, privatisation advisory services, and project financing).