Nigerians are facing the collapse of their network

Since the beginning of the week, Nigeria has been facing an almost complete collapse of its national electricity grid. A catastrophic situation in a context marked by the explosion of fuel prices used to power generators, now the only source of energy. As Nigeria may be the largest crude oil producer in Africa, the country imports almost all of its refined fuel. Gasoline prices – massively subsidized – remain stable, but the price of diesel has soared.

as reported from Lagos, Liza Fabbian

Everything seems almost normal in this snack from Lagos. The lights are on and the air conditioning is working. But at what cost In the last two weeks, the price of diesel that drives the plant’s generator has almost tripled. “Basically, diesel costs around 40 cents per liter. But all of a sudden it started to cost 80 öre. And there it went to almost 1.60 euros.

Henry is the accountant for this snack. He describes the daily hell of replenishing energy. “When there is no electricity in my office, we switch to the diesel generator. When there are no more, we use batteries. At home, I also run my generator every day, because I have a baby who can not stand this heat. But with the gas shortage lately, it’s been hell. Once I went out at 7 o’clock to get fuel and did not come back until 5 o’clock.

In the last two weeks, the workload at Anas Musa Muhammed’s sewing workshop has tripled. Due to lack of electricity, this little remarkable man has to run his generators day and night. – It started to get worse at the beginning of the year. Sometimes we had five minutes of electricity a day, no more. Sometimes whole weeks without light at all. The only solution is to use the generators, there is no alternative. We should not sit here and do nothing. Before, we could hold a full working day with 10 euros of petrol for our two generators. Today I prefer to spend 32.33 euros and the generators are running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “

It is a system that is structurally problematic and that cannot get out of these problems. So sometimes everything is required for the whole system to go wrong and cause blackout.

Philippe Sébille Lopes, head of the Geopolia company and specialist in energy geopolitical issues

In the popular and densely populated Obalende district, many are struggling to make ends meet. Even water prices have risen dramatically, according to Olaitan Olokowo, chairman of the owners’ association in this poor district. Previously, this water was traded for 40 cents for 12 cans. Today it is 2 euros.

Olaitan Olokowo is worried about a crisis that weighs on the poorest households. “The problems started at the end of December,” he recalls. It is difficult for community leaders to see more and more people begging. It’s very sad. If you come here at night, around midnight, 01.00, you will see people sleeping in their cars or sleeping on the street and trying to find some fresh air.

In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, the Nigerian finance minister confirmed this weekend that electricity subsidies were completely abolished, whose tariffs rose slightly in February. On Wednesday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari publicly apologized for the difficulties facing Nigerians today.

It’s something structural. Power outages have always been very frequent in Nigeria. On average, a household or company suffers from about 30 interruptions per month. The power outages are rather linked to the network’s inability to meet the high demand for electricity from consumers …

Hugo Le Picard, researcher at IFRI on the development of electricity systems in Africa

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