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Nigeria: A Nation in the dark

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Blackouts are a common occurrence in Africa’s top petroleum producer, where dilapidated infrastructure often fails to distribute even and sufficient electricity supplies. Last week alone, the national grid collapsed twice in 48 hours.

In Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos at night, many businesses rely on diesel generators to keep the lights on when power is out. However, the situation has been worsened by extended collapses of the power grid over the last several weeks doubled with a global hike in diesel prices in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine causing one of the country’s worst recent energy crises.

Lagos is the commercial capital of Africa’s largest economy, and small businesses are struggling to stay open while offices now often operate for several hours without power.

In the north of the country, some factory owners have complained about the power situation saying they have wound down from operating limited shifts to closing up completely as generator costs make business financially untenable.

In most homes, Nigerians operate small petrol generators to provide light when the power is off, even if only for a few hours but in wealthier neighbourhoods, buildings run larger, diesel generators.

On Monday, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari apologised over the fuel shortages and summoned his minister of power to discuss the electricity crisis.

The opposition leader of People’s Democratic Party had no kind words for the president hitting out at Buhari’s ruling APC party less than a year before 2023 elections, warning that the power crisis may lead to popular protests.

Nigerians are angered with the stalemate as they struggle with the weak naira against the dollar and high cost of living. As the power struggle continues, there is more to Nigeria’s perennial power problem than meets the eye.