The role of data in improving energy access in Nigeria

This article was written by Abigail Jibril


The off-grid electricity industry in Nigeria has little or no data. This has negative impacts on various stakeholders that could build this industry. How?

Without relevant data collection and reporting, decisions made in this industry will be based on instincts, hopes, perceptions which isn’t a logical basis for investment. So what are the current challenges that unavailability of data have caused in this industry?

A major product of the unavailability of data in this industry is the challenge of access to finance. The industry is already perceived as high risk and low-profit investment. Building track records using data will help financiers make well-informed decisions. It will also help developers build better business models.

There are several rural electrification projects aimed at improving energy access in Nigeria. How many people were without access to electricity? How many people have been electrified? What’s the progress status of unserved people within the country? We do not know. So how then do we quantify the progress and efforts put into rural electrification? How do we know which areas to concentrate more efforts on?

Data could be as simple as “WXY company provided solar-powered borehole and electricity to a community. Since then, the number of visits to the community clinic monthly on issues relating to dirty water, respiratory issues and poor eyesight has reduced from 50 persons to 10 persons monthly.” – This shows that the solution had an impact and it can be replicated in another community to attend to the same problem.

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“…Despite the advancements towards Goal 7, progress is insufficient to meet the 2030 Agenda’s energy-related goals and targets. This is especially true for developing countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing States. Moreover, gaps in official statistics abound for these countries, and they need investments in energy statistical systems to obtain better data to inform policy accurately and drive sustainable development,” said Stefan Schweinfest, Director, United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD).

“Reliable data and analysis is crucial to the success of Off-grid projects.”
Damilola Ogunbiyi, MD Rural Electrification Agency, Nigeria.

Availability of reliable data will ensure transparency and spur up innovation in the off-grid renewable energy industry in Nigeria.

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