With the concern around natural gas’s environmental impact, electric cooking is another way to clean up cooking. But in Nigeria, and many other developing countries, electrification is not always simple.
Nigeria has made significant progress on increasing electricity access over the past few decades. But close to half of Nigeria’s population still lack access to any kind of electricity. Even for those who do have a connection, grid access is often sporadic and unreliable. These setbacks feed a culture of heavy reliance on smoke-belching petrol and diesel generators. More than 11 million Nigerian homes, a little more than one third of the total, depend on generators, partly or wholly, for energy supply.
All this limits the chances of electric cooking, says Fay. However, the rise of off-grid electrification efforts through mini-grids offers “a very clear link” to electric cooking, he adds. Experts attribute Nigeria’s progress in electricity access to increased government investment in off-grid electrification through its Rural Electrification Agency. The agency’s Solar Power Naija programme, whose name includes the Nigerian word which embodies the enterprising and boisterous spirit of Nigerians, aims to connect five million homes across Nigeria to solar home systems or to a solar mini-grid by 2022.
The agency says it has made some 5,400 connections through mini-grids and connected 290,700 houses to solar home systems since 2019. These projects have helped Nigeria’s installed solar capacity increase almost double from 15 megawatts (million Watts) in 2012 to 28 megawatts in 2020.
And renewable energy start-ups have come up with novel ways to make off-grid clean electricity available to homes. Lumos Nigeria and Greenlight Planet Sun King, for example, have adopted price models that allow homes to subscribe per day, week or month. Education centres such as the Renewable Energy Technology Training Institute in Lagos are training Nigerian technicians on the installation and maintenance of solar systems. In one of its recent projects, it trained 20 women on solar panel installation in Nigeria’s largest slum settlement Makoko. Glory Oguegbu, founder of the institute, says these women have since trained others. In all, she says, about 750 women in the slum settlement were trained and many now have solar systems self-installed in their homes.
Despite these positive signs, off-grid connections are still not widely spread, especially in far-flung communities such as Chinenye’s small, sleepy village, where she gathers wood for the evening fire.
“I have heard about cooking without firewood and I hope one day I will cook for my children without battling the smoke from my three-stone fire,” she says.
Data research and visualisation by Kajsa Rosenblad
Animation by Adam Proctor
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