This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard’s Nigeria Country Manager Peter Hansen
Nigeria is a rapidly growing country boasting a large population. Due to this, there is a huge electricity demand that Nigeria is hard pressed to fulfil since they currently struggle to maintain a “meagre 4000 MW of electricity” (Bolodeoku). Additionally, Nigeria deals with pervasive blackouts and brownouts, which makes it extremely difficult for the country to progress. It needs to find an alternative, more consistent method of producing electricity in order to further develop its economy and move more people out of poverty.
One avenue to do this would be through developing a nuclear energy program. Currently, Nigeria has no nuclear power plants, but they do recognize the potential it could have for the country. To help embrace nuclear energy, Nigeria has built a relationship with Russia and the Russian State Nuclear Corporation Rosatom. The Russian-Nigerian Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) on National Atomic Energy was first established in 2009 with the goal of having completed nuclear energy plants by 2020. Obviously, this has not worked out for “undisclosed reasons”. COVID-19 certainly did not help, but the issues were apparent well before the pandemic. Additionally, there is the worry of and a “need in particular to avoid weapons proliferation” (Bolodeoku).
Despite the fact that no real progress has been made, the two countries recently reconstituted the agreement on July 15, 2021. It seems that both countries are interested in making this happen, but only time will tell if anything actually occurs. The new agreement included plans for two power plants: the Geregu nuclear power plant (central Nigeria) and the Itu nuclear power plant (southern Nigeria). Both power plants are expected to be twin reactors that will each cost around $10 billion. As expected, Russia will be paying for the majority of the project.
Hopefully, the two countries can work together in order to find a solution that will better millions of peoples’ lives. I have faith that a plant will be built because the money is there from Russia and Nigeria genuinely wants it to happen. The Nigerian government even started a new master’s program in nuclear engineering that saw its first class graduate in 2014. The government will hopefully follow through with their plans this time. However, and unfortunately for Nigeria, they do not have much to go off or any examples to follow as South Africa is the only country on the continent with a commercial power plant.