June 7, 2011 • Current Events, Electricity

A change in the African landscape

by Hannah Miller

With election season nigh upon us, it’s pretty common to open up the news and see a handful of issues that only get pulled out a few times a year. Suddenly, they are dusted off and take center stage in the public debate. Financial concerns, moral and legal issues, and of course energy debates will be a part of this year’s election coverage – and it’s not hard to understand why. Small changes in any of these arenas can bring about big change in public life.

Lest we think we’re the only nation facing these questions, let us remember that energy risk management and utilities management are not issues that only businesses or developed regions face. These concerns are the foundation of a stable economy and especially need to be addressed in developing nations.

Recently, The Economist reported on the election of new Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan. Among a laundry list of issues facing the country — including food supply, regional and religious rifts, and most of all, government corruption — this new government is taking aim at revolutionizing the electric power landscape in the country.

A telling statistic shows that it can cost a business up to three times as much to carry out operations in Nigeria vs. South Africa, in large part due to lack of access to reliable and affordable energy.

from The Economist

However, the statistic that is really most stunning says that Nigeria, the seventh most populous country in the world and the seventh largest oil exporter, has as much electric grid capacity as a small town in England.

It’s no wonder that businesses looking at expanding into the Nigerian market think long and hard before jumping in. The privatization of the electricity market is in progress, but it will be a long and challenging road. This road offers exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs to build their own power stations and sell electricity back into the grid and surely many other creative changes.

For private citizens of Nigeria, these reforms have the potential to change their way of life. For local businesses and global companies looking to expand into the market, a keen understanding of the regulatory requirements and opportunity analysis could open big doors to benefit, not only their own goals, but strengthen the country as a whole.

Viva la revolution!

© 2011 Summit Energy Services. All rights reserved.