‘The sun rises elsewhere but sets continually some place’ – Part 1

Wind-energyDriving at night in Port Harcourt is becoming a nightmare. Most highway streets lights aren’t working. One can’t put the blame on the doorstep of the present administration, owing to the economic harsh realities. Ours is an economy driven by oil, no thanks to the glut, we are broke. And campaign promises can’t be fulfilled because reality of the situation gives office holders judgmental stares.

A moment ago, before now, generators powered the major highways. It was embarrassing to see contractors come to put generators on and shut them down very early the next day. Generators, in the 21st century powering highways! Administrators seem to have totally run out of ideas, and stewardship not driven by a sense of mission. Surprisingly- elsewhere administrators and scientists are bursting at the seams with practical ideas for the common good.

And so in neighbourhoods and communities, there are no streetlights. Streetlight in our country is a luxury only for the highway. Sometimes, I wonder the role of the local government. Our streets are dark and there are places, I dare not pass through at night for fear of being mugged.

That seems to be the lot of Nigerians. Nothing works. I remember, a former governor who toyed with the idea of powering Rivers State with solar power. Good idea but the type procured and installed would appear to be so fake that an oil lamp in my village could be preferred to it. It has since kissed the state good night and made the contractors millionaires suddenly.

Morocco today is in the news for the right reasons because she is building the world’s largest solar power plant in Ouarzazate. It was reported that at present, close to half a million solar panels by estimated value are up and running. Hopefully, in 2018, when the project managers hope to complete the project, the plant will produce 580 megawatts of energy, capable to power one million Moroccan homes.

Morocco, we gather is a third world country like Nigeria, but while we think oil, the Moroccan government plans to meet “42 per cent of our country’s electricity needs from renewable sources (solar, water and biomass energy, wind,) by 2020.”

It is easy to deduce how jobs are created someplace because of the ingenuity of those who run their country’s affairs. Entrepreneurial opportunities spring up thanks to massive investments in the polity. ‬

Like Morocco, Pakistan already has a gigantic solar farm in eastern Pakistan, in the Cholistan Desert, where 400,000 installed solar panels generates about 100 megawatts of energy. This is only the first stage. Thanks to the country’s synergy with Chinese contractors who are helping to build the solar farm, on completion, in 2017, the farm is expected to outclass, (twice as much), Morocco in the production of electricity.

Were we not told that there is systemic corruption in Kenya? Despite the tainted image, but they have in place since last year, an elephantine geothermal power plant, which utilizes trapped heat below the earth’s surface to power turbines producing 280 megawatts of electricity. This source of electricity it was reported provides electricity to thousands of schools in Kenya.

If it’s hard to compete with Pakistan, Kenya and Morocco then it would be harder with the UK, Chinese, Australians, even Indians, maybe.

U.K. companies (notably DONG Energy), are racing to the wind away from the sun as an alternative to power three per cent of the UK household – conservatively about, one million homes. Plans are on in the next four years to” build the world’s largest ocean-based wind farm off Britain’s east coast with 174 massive wind turbines.” With support by the U.K. government, which has invested US$200 million in the project, this project will without fail create jobs for many Britons.

China and Australia are large producers of hydroelectric power. Maybe it’s time we began to woo nations to teach and transfer technology to us and banish this generational darkness that is our lot today. Enough of preachments about pipeline vandals and saboteurs derailing our electricity projects. ‬

Nigeria can solve her power challenge from renewable sources and create new jobs for many. Renewable sources equally have the propensity to reduce pollution and the health problems, associated with it. ‬

Remembering, Andrew and the famous “Men! I am checking out, no light, etc”, commercial on NTA in the 1980s, then I wonder why three decades later we still grapple with 2,000 to 5, 000 megawatts of electricity despite the preponderance of renewable sources and the success stories of countries around the world which shouldn’t only leave us awestruck but should inspire us.

• Abah, teacher, speaker, writer, campaigner, and consultant wrote from Port Harcourt.
Nigeria. 08023792604; 07035017922; @abahsimon1



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