Lack of access to electricity is one of the major impediments to growth and development of rural economies in developing countries. Currently around 1.5 billion people worldwide live without access to electricity, and this number is not likely to go down without a concerted effort. Energy and electricity in particular is critical to achieving virtually all the Millennium development goals. Electricity can be used to support important development like access to education, improved health, communication and women empowerment. The main objective of this thesis is to find a sustainable way of bringing electricity to the rural communities in Nigeria.
The World Bank and other development organizations such as Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) have made access to modern energy, most especially electricity, one of their priority themes. These organizations have implemented hundreds of rural electrification projects around the world. I was recently involved in a similar UNDP funded project in Nigeria. The reports and lessons learned from these projects can provide insight on vital issues that must be considered in order to plan sustainable and replicable rural electrification projects for Nigeria’s rural communities.
It was concluded that grid extension to the poor, scattered, rural population is not economically justifiable at the moment. The least-cost method of getting electricity supply to the rural areas in the country is through off-grid electrification. The best technology option to be used for rural off-grid electrification is either a village mini-grid or different energy home systems, depending on several factors. Such factors are the type of loads, population concentration, resources and equipment availability, and income level. It is also important to consider the financial and organizational issues involved as they are critical to the success and long term sustainability of rural electrification programs.