August 2019 by the journal Climate Policy
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and home to approximately 10% of the un-electrified population of Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2017, 77 million Nigerians or 40% of the population had no access to affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity. In practice, diesel- and petrol-fueled back-up generators supply the vast majority of electricity in the country. In Nigeria’s nationally-determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, over 60% of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reductions are foreseen in the power sector. The goal of this study is to identify and critically examine the pathways available to Nigeria to meet its 2030 electricity access, renewables and decarbonisation goals in the power sector. Using published data and stakeholder interviews, we build three potential scenarios for electrification and growth in demand, generation and transmission capacity. The demand assumptions incorporate existing knowledge on pathways for electrification via grid extension, mini-grids and solar home systems (SHS). The supply assumptions are built upon an evaluation of the investment pipeline for generation and transmission capacity, and possible scale-up rates up to 2030. The results reveal that, in the most ambitious Green Transition scenario, Nigeria meets its electricity access goals, whereby those connected to the grid achieve a Tier 3 level of access, and those served by sustainable off-grid solutions (mini-grids and SHS) achieve Tier 2. Decarbonisation pledges would be surpassed in all three scenarios but renewable energy goals would only be partly met. Fossil fuel-based back-up generation continues to play a substantial role in all scenarios. The implications and critical uncertainties of these findings are extensively discussed.