Nigeria is both a solution and victim of the European energy crisis

Damien Glez
By Damien Glez

A French/Burkinabé artist and editorialist.

Posted on Monday, 18 April 2022 10:09

In the midst of an energy price explosion, Western Europe is eyeing an alternative to Russia : Nigeria. But Nigerian citizens are hardly benefiting from their status as one of the largest oil producers on the continent...

Since the Russian invasion in Ukraine, the European Union has been caught between a rock and a hard place: on the one hand, the need for economic sanctions against the aggressor, and on the other hand, how to curb its dependence on Russian energy through a boycott.

“Our time has come”, say the nationals of rich but impoverished African countries that hold 15% of the world’s hydrocarbon reserves…

EU diplomats negotiated earlier last week with Nigeria’s state-owned oil company, with 40% of Nigeria’s gas already exported to Europe. The leaders of Nigeria, Niger and Algeria reached an agreement a few weeks ago to restart work on a vast 4,000km trans-Saharan gas pipeline project.

Serious shortages

If cobblers have the reputation of being the worst shod, Nigeria is currently facing a serious shortage of gasoline that could look like a running-gag, had the daily life of Nigerians not become a headache.

Since January, long queues of motorists have been lined up from seven o’clock in the morning at petrol stations in Lagos, Abuja or Ibadan Enugu, in search of a rare commodity: a full tank of petrol, or even the filling of jerry cans. With the start of the conflict in Ukraine in February, the surge in oil prices has doubled the price of diesel in oil-producing Nigeria, which imports fuel.

In Africa’s most populous country, the energy problems are not just cyclical. They are structural and multidimensional: Excessive dependence on oil, especially for electricity; Dilapidated refineries; Excessive exports of crude oil; Poor gas supply; Cancellation of flights due to lack of paraffin; Development of the adulterated fuel sector…

206 breakdowns…

Weaknesses and defects in the maintenance of the electricity network, with 206 breakdowns recorded between 2010 and 2019 – including disasters in airports, hospitals and even President Buhari’s residence in recent months – pile onto individual difficulties in powering diesel generators, and an upsurge in car accidents on darkened streets.

While the management of oil and electricity are intertwined, the World Bank considers that power cuts alone would cost Nigeria some 2% of its GDP. And what about the impact of the petrol shortage on the efficiency of the economy, when citizens who have not capitulated by staying at home have to waste hours waiting for the precious fuel?

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