A new tide of expectation grips Africa’s most populous country. Lights could soon be going on all over Nigeria. At the risk of stretching the metaphor—light is at the end of the tunnel.
It is a tunnel that Amaechi Agwunobi—a 35-year-old entrepreneur—has traveled for years. Agwunobi runs a business center offering internet, lamination and photo copying to two universities in Lagos.
“I have spent more money on petrol for my generators than I have been making from the business. Yet, I also have to pay electricity bills. If we had constant electricity, my business will be more profitable,” says Agwunobi.
Seni Osikanlu lives at 1004 Estate, a high-rise residential estate in Lagos. She prefers to pay a heavy service charge that guarantees constant power.
“In Lagos, it’s easy to have constant power—you just have to be prepared to pay through your teeth for it,” she says.
This is everyday life for millions of Nigerians who grew up with the joke that the national power generator, NEPA, meant: Never Expect Power Always. Or, that its successor the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) stood for: Please Hold Candles Near.
It is the conundrum of an oil and gas rich nation with the lowest electricity coverage in the world. Economists say poor power supply costs Nigeria billions of dollars in imported generator diesel and lost output. It also hampers Nigeria’s quest to be the economic engine of Africa.
After many false dawns, the Nigerian power sector is now steering towards private money with the sale of 16 assets, unbundled from PHCN, to private investors following a bid process in November. The power sector can now invest money to increase generation and expand transmission and distribution.
Sahara Energy, a Nigeria-based conglomerate with a local partner, a joint venture between NEDC and Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO), is one of the approved bidders. It has a majority holding in two of the assets that were sold by the Nigerian government: Egbin Power Station, the largest power generator in Nigeria, and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, the largest distributor.
Kola Adesina, the chairman of Egbin Power Plc, a 1,320-megawatt (MW) capacity plant, says the power station is producing a mere 1,110MW.
“Unfortunately, in the past eight years, two of the turbines went down. We had to fix them because the boilers were down,” he says.
“Primarily, between 2001 and 2003, we provided diesel to the emergency power plants in Abuja (45MW). It was a serious logistical nightmare because we had to deliver about 10 trucks every day for 30 months to fuel the plant. We then got the boilers fixed with our technical partner. By doing so we had the privilege of reducing the original costs we could be facing.”
Adesina says, by April 2014, another 220MW will be restored.
“Rather than throwing it into the grid and subjecting the capacity to both technical and distribution losses, we have decided that the new turbines will now go to both Ikeja and Eko Disco. It will be shared 120MW and 100MW respectively between the two distribution companies which translates into more capacity being available in Lagos,” he says.
Crumbling infrastructure, vandalism and distribution losses are a problem, says Adesina.
Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc. (Transcorp), a Nigerian conglomerate with a diversified portfolio, acquired 100% of the Ughelli power plant for $300 million in the privatization.
“We took over the plant in November; at that time it was producing 160MW. Under our plan, we said we will be able to get the plant back up to 650MW within the first three years and in five years, recover the entire 1000-megawatts capacity of the plant. We have been a lot more bullish, however, and are running far ahead of our projections,” says Obinna Ufudo, the CEO of Transcorp.
“We expect that by the end of 2014 we should be at about 700MW, which is in excess of what we promised to do in three years. We decided to have a single-minded focus on this plant and by doing so we are able to supply more power to the national grid and begin to affect the lives of the Nigerians and the economy a lot quicker.”
Transcorp have also signed an agreement with General Electric to develop a new 1,000MW plant at Ughelli.
“We intend to be the largest producer of power in Nigeria and eventually begin to look across the continent where we are able to extend our expertise.”
Both Ufudo and Adesina are certain that Nigerians will benefit from more power by the end of the year.
“I believe all the generation companies, which are now in private hands, will double their outputs by the end of the year. Producing power is one issue. Getting it to the homes is a different issue and this is where the distribution companies come in,” says Ufudo.
Stanbic IBTC is one of the many home-grown financial institutions lending to the power privatization process.
“We supported a number of bidders both on the GENCO (generation companies) and the DISCO (distribution companies) side. There were only local banks that participated in the acquisition phase and they provided about $2.7 billion worth of debt to the bidders. Other than Standard Bank of South Africa (majority shareholder of Stanbic IBTC), there was no other international participation in the PHCN privatization process,” says Soji Omisore, the head of mining, energy and infrastructure at Stanbic IBTC Bank Lagos.
The litmus test lies in bidders’ performance in the long run and how they handle risk.
“No project is without risk. The opportunities are prevalent but so are the risks. We are a Nigerian bank, we understand Nigeria and we take Nigerian risks,” says Omisore.
“From our perspective, the power sector in Nigeria is a challenge, but therein lies the opportunity—it’s not an easy sector. We believe there will be roughly up to $5 billion of capital expenditure and beyond that, there will be further expansion of about $1 million per megawatt required. Currently, we have just over 9,000MW of installed capacity; we’re only producing about 3,500MW to 4,500MW, depending on the rainfall patterns for a population of over 165 million. So, in terms of our per capita consumption, it is extremely low.”
Omisore also believes in the need for a very strong regulator as the market develops.
“The third phase will be the further expansion where we will increase capacity from the current 9,000MW to 20,000MW by 2020 as projected by the government. While this is achievable, I still perceive it to be ambitious. There are still many parties that need to play in order to affect that. While the government has done well, there is still significant room for further improvement in terms of the regulatory aspect, bankability issues and the general perceived risk attached to Nigeria,” he says.
When it comes to financing though, there are no sacred cows as there are a few boxes to tick on the part of the financial institutions. Omisore highlights the quality of bidders, their level of experience, expertise, past records and potential equity contribution as important factors.
“It is better to have a bad project and good sponsors, than a good sponsor and a bad project as the good sponsor will make the project happen,” says Omisore.
Now Nigerians wait to see whether the light bulb moment for their government is really as bright as everyone hopes it will be.
Climate Explained: How Much Of Climate Change Is Natural? How Much Is Man-made?
How much climate change is natural? How much is man made?
As someone who has been working on climate change detection and its causes for over 20 years I was both surprised and not surprised that I was asked to write on this topic by The Conversation. For nearly all climate scientists, the case is proven that humans are the overwhelming cause of the long-term changes in the climate that we are observing. And that this case should be closed.
Despite this, climate denialists continue to receive prominence in some media which can lead people into thinking that man-made climate change is still in question. So it’s worth going back over the science to remind ourselves just how much has already been established.
Successive reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – mandated by the United Nations to assess scientific evidence on climate change – have evaluated the causes of climate change. The most recent special report on global warming of 1.5 degrees confirms that the observed changes in global and regional climate over the last 50 or so years are almost entirely due to human influence on the climate system and not due to natural causes.
What is climate change?
First we should perhaps ask what we mean by climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change defines climate change as:
a change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.
The causes of climate change can be any combination of:
- Internal variability in the climate system, when various components of the climate system – like the atmosphere and ocean – vary on their own to cause fluctuations in climatic conditions, such as temperature or rainfall. These internally-driven changes generally happen over decades or longer; shorter variations such as those related to El Niño fall in the bracket of climate variability, not climate change.
- Natural external causes such as increases or decreases in volcanic activity or solar radiation. For example, every 11 years or so, the Sun’s magnetic field completely flips and this can cause small fluctuations in global temperature, up to about 0.2 degrees. On longer time scales – tens to hundreds of millions of years – geological processes can drive changes in the climate, due to shifting continents and mountain building.
- Human influence through greenhouse gases (gases that trap heat in the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide and methane), other particles released into the air (which absorb or reflect sunlight such as soot and aerosols) and land-use change (which affects how much sunlight is absorbed on land surfaces and also how much carbon dioxide and methane is absorbed and released by vegetation and soils).
What changes have been detected?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report showed that, on average, the global surface air temperature has risen by 1°C since the beginning of significant industrialisation (which roughly started in the 1850s). And it is increasing at ever faster rates, currently 0.2°C per decade, because the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have themselves been increasing ever faster.
The oceans are warming as well. In fact, about 90% of the extra heat trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases is being absorbed by the oceans.
A warmer atmosphere and oceans are causing dramatic changes, including steep decreases in Arctic summer sea ice which is profoundly impacting arctic marine ecosystems, increasing sea level rise which is inundating low lying coastal areas such as Pacific island atolls, and an increasing frequency of many climate extremes such as drought and heavy rain, as well as disasters where climate is an important driver, such as wildfire, flooding and landslides.
Multiple lines of evidence, using different methods, show that human influence is the only plausible explanation for the patterns and magnitude of changes that have been detected.
This human influence is largely due to our activities that release greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, as well sunlight absorbing soot. The main sources of these warming gases and particles are fossil fuel burning, cement production, land cover change (especially deforestation) and agriculture.
Most of us will struggle to pick up slow changes in the climate. We feel climate change largely through how it affects weather from day-to-day, season-to-season and year-to-year.
The weather we experience arises from dynamic processes in the atmosphere, and interactions between the atmosphere, the oceans and the land surface. Human influence on the broader climate system acts on these processes so that the weather today is different in many ways from how it would have been.
One way we can more clearly see climate change is by looking at severe weather events. A branch of climate science, called extreme event or weather attribution, looks at memorable weather events and estimates the extent of human influence on the severity of these events. It uses weather models run with and without measured greenhouse gases to estimate how individual weather events would have been different in a world without climate change.
As of early 2019, nearly 70% of weather events that have been assessed in this way were shown to have had their likelihood and/or magnitude increased by human influence on climate. In a world without global warming, these events would have been less severe. Some 10% of the studies showed a reduction in likelihood, while for the remaining 20% global warming has not had a discernible effect. For example, one study showed that human influence on climate had increased the likelihood of the 2015-2018 drought that afflicted Cape Town in South Africa by a factor of three.
Adapting to a changing climate
Weather extremes underlie many of the hazards that damage society and the natural environment we depend upon. As global warming has progressed, so have the frequency and intensity of these hazards, and the damage they cause.
Minimising the impacts of these hazards, and having mechanisms in place to recover quickly from the impacts, is the aim of climate adaptation, as recently reported by the Global Commission on Adaptation.
As the Commission explains, investing in adaptation makes sense from economic, social and ethical perspectives. And as we know that climate change is caused by humans, society cannot use “lack of evidence” on its cause as an excuse for inaction any more.
The Rage And Tears That Tore A Nation
Snapshots of the outrage against foreign nationals and protests against sexual offenders in South Africa in recent weeks, captured by FORBES AFRICA photojournalist Motlabana Monnakgotla.
As the continent’s second-biggest economy, South Africa attracts migrants from the rest of Africa. But mired in its own problems of unemployment and political instability, September saw a serious outbreak of attacks by South Africans on foreign nationals and foreign-owned businesses. And they have been ugly.
The spark that fueled the raging fire was in Pretoria, the country’s capital, when a taxi driver was shot dead by a foreign national who was selling drugs to a youngster in the central business district (CBD).
The altercation caused a riot and the taxi industry brought the CBD to a standstill, blocking intersections. It did not stop there; a week later, about 60 kilometers from the capital in Malvern, a suburb east of the Johannesburg CBD, a hijacked building caught fire, leaving three dead. As emergency services were putting out the fire, the residents took advantage and looted foreign-owned shops and burned car dealerships overnight on Jules Street.
The lootings extended to the CBD and other parts of Johannesburg.
To capture this embarrassing moment in South African history, I visited Katlehong, a township 35 kilometers east of Johannesburg, where the residents blocked roads leading to Sontonga Mall on a mission to loot the mall and the foreign-owned shops therein overnight.
Shop-owners and workers were shocked to wake up to no business.
Mfundo Maljingolo, a worker at Fish And Chips, was among the distressed.
“This thing started last night, people started looting and broke into the mall and did what they wanted to do. I couldn’t go to work today because there’s nothing to do; now, we are not going to get paid. The shop will be losing close to R10,000 ($677) today. It’s messed up,” said Maljingolo.
But South African businesses were affected too.
Among the shops at the mall is Webbers, a clothing and footwear store. Looters could not enter the shop and it was one of the few that escaped the vandalism.
Dineo Nyembe, the store’s manager, said she was in disbelief when she saw people could not enter the mall.
“We got here this morning and the ceiling was wrecked but there was no sign that the shop was entered, everything was just as we left it. Now, we are packing stock back to the warehouse, because we don’t know if they are coming back tonight,” lamented Nyembe, unsure if they would make their daily target or if they would be trading again.
Across the now-wrecked mall are small businesses that were not as fortunate as Webbers, and it was not only the shop-owners that were affected.
Emmanuel Nhlane’s home was robbed even as attackers were looting the shop outside.
“They broke into my house, I was threatened with a petrol bomb and I had to stand outside to give them a chance; they took my fridge, bed, cash and my VHS,” said Nhlane.
Nhlane had rented out his yard to foreign nationals to operate a shop. He does not comprehend why his belongings were taken because he doesn’t own a shop. Now, it means that the unemployed Nhlane will not be getting his monthly rental fee of R3,700 ($250).
Far away, the coastal KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, was also affected as trucks burned and a driver was killed because of his nationality. This was part of a logistics and transport industry national strike.
Back in Johannesburg, I visited the car dealerships that were a part of the burning spree on Jules Street.
The streets were still ashy and the air still smoky, two days after the unfortunate turn of events.
Muhamed Haffejee, one of the distraught businessmen there, said: “Currently, we are still not trading.”
Cape Town, in the Western Cape province of South Africa, which hosted the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa from September 4 to 6, was also witness to protests by women and girls from all walks of life outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre, demanding that the leadership take action to end the spate of gender-based violence (GBV) in the country.
There were protests also outside Parliament. What set off the nationwide outcry was the shocking rape and murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana, a 19-year-old film and media student at the University of Cape Town, inside a post office by a 42-year-old employee at the post office.
There was anger against the ghastly crimes and wave of GBV in the country that continues unabated. According to Stats SA, there has been a drastic increase of women-based violence in South Africa; sexual offences are up by 4.6%, from 50,108 in 2018 to 52,420 in 2019.
A week later, on a Friday, Sandton, Africa’s richest square mile and one of the biggest economic hubs, was shut down by hundreds of angry women and members of advocacy groups from across Johannesburg. They congregated by the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the cynosure of business, singing and chanting, to demand “a 2% levy on profits of all listed entities to help fund the fight against GBV and femicide”.
Among the protesters was Cebi Ngqinanbi, holding a placard that read: “I’m not your punching bag.”
“We came here to disrupt Sandton as the heart of Johannesburg’s economic hub. We want to make everyone aware that women and children are being killed every day in South Africa and they [Sandton] continue with business as usual, sitting in their offices with air-conditioners and the stock exchange whilst people on the ground making them rich are dying. That is why we are here, to speak to those that have economic power,” said Ngqinanbi.
She added that if women can be given economic power, they will be able to fend for themselves and won’t fall prey to abusive men, since most women stay in abusive relationships because men are more financially stable.
Amid the chanting and singing of struggle songs, Nobuhle Ajiti addressed the crowd and shared her own haunting experience as a migrant in South Africa and survivor of GBV. She spoke in isiZulu, a South African language.
“I survived a gang rape; I was thrown out of a moving car and stabbed several times. I survived it, but am I going to survive xenophobia that is looming around in South Africa? Will I able to share my xenophobia story like I can share my GBV story?” questioned Ajiti.
She said as migrants, they did not wake up in the morning and decide to come to South Africa, but because of the hardships faced in their home countries, they were forced to come to what they perceived as the city of opportunities. And as a foreign national, she had to deal with both xenophobia and GBV.
“We experience institutionalized xenophobia in hospitals; we are forced to pay huge amounts for consultation. I am raped and I need medical attention and I am told I need to pay R5,000 ($250).
“As a mere migrant, where am I going to get R5,000? I get abused at home and the police officer would ask me where I’m from because of my accent, I sound Zimbabwean. What does my nationality have to do with my husband beating me at home or with the man that just raped me?” she asked.
Addressing the resolute women outside was the JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King who received the memorandum demanding business take their plight seriously, from a civil society group representing over 70 civil society organizations and individuals.
The list of demands include that at all JSE-listed companies contribute to a fund to resource the National Strategy Plan on GBV and femicide, to be launched in November; transport for employees who work night shifts or work after hours; establish workplace mechanisms to provide support to GBV survivors as part of employee wellness, and prevention programs that help make workplaces safe spaces for all women.
Newton-King assured the protestors she would address their demands in seven days. But a lot can happen in seven days. Will there be more crimes in the meantime? How many more will be raped and killed in South Africa by then?
Quality Higher Education Means More Than Learning How To Work
When people talk about quality education, they’re often referring to the kind of education that gives students the knowledge and skills they need for the job market. But there’s a view that quality education has wider benefits: it develops individuals in ways that help develop society more broadly.
In Zimbabwe, for example, the higher education policy emphasises student employability and the alleviation of labour shortages. But, as my research found, this isn’t happening in practice.
University education needs to do more than produce a graduate who can get a job. It should also give graduates a sense of right and wrong. And it should instil graduates with an appreciation for other people’s development.
Tertiary education should also give students opportunities, choices and a voice when it comes to work safety, job satisfaction, security, growth and dignity. Higher education is a space where they can learn to be critical. It must prepare them for participating in the economy and broader society.
This isn’t happening in Zimbabwe. Graduate unemployment is high and employers and policy makers are blaming this largely on the mismatch between graduate skills and market requirements.
Investigating Zimbabwe’s universities
My research sought to examine how a human development lens could add to what was valued as higher education, and the kind of graduate outcomes produced in Zimbabwe. I investigated 10 of the universities in Zimbabwe (there were 15 at the time of the research). Four were private and six public.
I reviewed policy documents, interviewed representatives of institutions and held discussions with students. Members of Zimbabwe’s higher education quality assurance body and university teaching staff were also included.
I found that in practice, higher education in Zimbabwe was influenced by the country’s socio-political and economic climate. Decisions and appointments of key university administrators in public universities and the minister of higher education were largely political.
In addition, resources were limited and staff turnover was high. Universities just couldn’t finance themselves through tuition fees.
Different players in the higher education system – employers, the government, academics, students and their families – have different ideas about what “quality” means in higher education. The Zimbabwe Council for Higher Education understands quality as meeting set standards and benchmarks that emphasise the graduates’ knowledge and skills.
To some extent, academics and university administrators see quality as teaching and learning that gives students a mixture of skills and values such as social responsibility.
But lecturers must comply with the largely top-down approach to quality. They tend to do whatever will enhance students’ prospects of getting employment in a particular market.
The educators and students I interviewed acknowledged that developing the ability to work and to think critically were both central to higher education. But they admitted that these goals were hard to attain. This was because of the country’s constrained socio-political and economic environment. Academics and students felt that they couldn’t express themselves freely and critical thinking was suppressed.
Stuck on a road to nowhere
The study illustrates how an over-emphasis on creating human capital – skilled and knowledgeable graduates – limits higher education’s potential to foster broader human and social development.
University education should do more, especially in developing countries such as Zimbabwe that face not just economic, but also socio-political challenges. Before building more universities and enrolling more students, authorities and citizens should consider what quality education means in relation to the kind of society they want.
It’s possible to take a broader view of development, quality and the role of higher education. This broader approach – one that appreciates social justice – can equip graduates to address the country’s problems.
The road ahead
Universities can’t change a society on their own. But their teaching and learning practices can make an important difference.
Because quality teaching and learning means different things to different people, people need to talk about it democratically. Institutional and national policies must be informed by broad consultations to identify the knowledge, skills and values they want graduates to have.
University teaching and learning should emphasise freedom of expression and participation so that students can think and act critically beyond university.
Also, academics don’t automatically know how to teach just because they have a PhD. Universities should therefore ensure that academics learn how to teach and communicate their knowledge. Curriculum design, student assessment and feedback, as well as training of lecturers should all support this goal of human development.
When universities see quality in terms of human development, their role becomes more than production of workers in an economy. It gives them a mandate to nurture ethically responsible graduates. These more rounded graduates are better equipped to imagine an alternative future in pursuit of a better society, economically, politically and socially.
–Patience Mukwambo: Researcher, University of the Free State
Download issues of Forbes Africa
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa April 2020 - 30 Under 30 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa March 2020 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa February 2020 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa December 2019/ January 2020 R50.00
- Single Digital Issue: Forbes Africa November 2019 R50.00
Subscribe to Forbes Africa
How Steve Aoki Is Staying Creative While Stuck At Home | Ask The Expert | Forbes
A Physician’s Perspective On The Coronavirus Pandemic | Forbes
A Famous Street Falls Silent: Luring Locals Only Way After The Lockdown
Waffle House’s Struggles Highlight How Coronavirus Is Killing Restaurants | Forbes
Tattoo Artist Dani Egna On Staying Focused And Inspired | Unfiltered | Forbes
- Video4 weeks ago
Clara Foods’ Arturo Elizondo Is Creating Egg Proteins To Replace The Need For Poultry | Forbes
- Health3 days ago
[BREAKING] Coronavirus Update: Global COVID-19 cases pass one million
- Health4 weeks ago
Here’s The Worst Places To Travel Because Of The COVID-19 Coronavirus Outbreak
- Entertainment3 weeks ago
DJ Zinhle: The ‘Lazy Kid’ Who Achieved Platinum Success
- Entrepreneurs4 weeks ago
Jack Welch: Managerial Genius Who Made One Disastrous Mistake
- Brand Voice2 weeks ago
FOCUS ON NIGERIA: The Next Level For Africa
- Brand Voice4 weeks ago
A Decade of Gert-Johan Coetzee
- Woman3 weeks ago
Clothes Encounters In The Congo: How Fashion Can Be Used As A Tool For Social Change