Lockdown has been effected in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun State by the Federal Government of the country while other states have instituted curfew in one way or the other to limit the spread of the Pandemic but one thing that has been considered by the officials is the availability of electricity for their citizens during the lockdown.
Four days ago, popular actress Ada Ameh of the Johnson’s family protested about the poor electricity to Nigerians during the ongoing lockdown in major parts of the country which was welcomed by lots of Nigerians. The Speaker of the House of Assembly, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila met with the Minister of Power, Mr. Sale Mamman and the management of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission over the viral video by the Nollywood actress.
The Speaker pleaded with the authorities to do all in their power to make sure that electricity available to the average Nigerian during the ongoing lockdown.
Given unreliable electricity supply, having citizens staying home amid a lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 Pandemic likely means millions of electricity generators will be working overtime to power homes, worsening pollution in residential areas.
With Nigeria’s struggling national grid lacking in capacity to power the entire country, generators—especially small, low cost models with tank capacities of just four liters—have become an ubiquitous alternative for power despite a ban on mass importation.
It’s a reality that runs counter to happenings in other parts of the world. With fewer people commuting in cities, fewer factories pumping out waste and fewer city centers being populated, there has been a positive effect on emissions. In China, carbon emissions dropped by an estimated 25% while India has seen air quality improve notably in some of its biggest cities. Europe has also seen major reductions in nitrous oxide gases.
While Lagos’ deserted highways and erstwhile bustling business districts mean lower vehicular and industrial emissions, research shows the increased use of generators likely means an uptick in air and noise pollution.
As a measure of the scale of the use of generators, researchers at the department of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University found backup power generation in Nigeria produces carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to 60% of its annual electricity sector emissions. Nigeria is home to 23 million small gasoline generators which have a capacity that’s eight times larger than the national power grid, according to conservative estimates by Access to Energy Institute (A2EI), a German-based non-profit.
There are also thousands of wealthier households with much larger diesel-based generators which are even worse for the environment.
In the midst of this lockdown where vehicular movement are largely restricted, public transport are no where to be found except for few essential and health workers who takes turn to go to their work place on varied days and time. Citizens have to stay at home to make most of their time have resorted into buying fuels with their various jerrycan at filling stations closer to them.
But the increased usage of generators during the lockdown is also a cyclical effect of attempts to keep the economy afloat as, in a major shift in Nigerian work culture, businesses are asking employees to work from home. Aware of the country’s electricity situation, some companies are providing stipends to cover extra generator costs.
The bad news for Nigeria is that air and noise pollution from generators will last much longer than the lockdown will. A2EI forecasts steady increase in demand for generators over the next decade amid Nigeria’s population spurt and slow progress in finding alternatives.
Credits: Yomi Kazeem of qz.com who is an African reporter