The use of solar energy to power businesses has been found to significantly improve the socioeconomic status of Nigerians, according to findings of a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and All-On- a Shell-funded impact investment company.
The study was conducted to analyse the impact of solar energy implementations on Health, Education and Food Security outcomes as well as its effect on the Environment and Commercial Activity in the country.
The study assessed the developmental benefits that Nigeria has already realised from its limited solar installations and what impact could be achieved from scaled deployment by engaging six different user groups across five socioeconomic dimensions.
According to the study, the Nigerian solar off-grid market is among the fastest-growing in Africa, increasing at a 22 percent average annual rate during the past five years but has underperformed its peers in Africa in penetration of off-grid solar – and has a long way to go before its solar market could be considered robust. Nigeria’s installed photovoltaic (PV) panel per capita amounts to only about 1 watt compared to an average of 8 watts in similar emerging market, indicating a big opportunity for further growth in the country. Given the dynamics favouring solar deployment in the country, Nigeria’s PV per capita could reach 5 –8 GW by 2030.
A survey of Nigerian Primary Health Centres (PHCs) with solar electricity showed that they witnessed a 60 to 70 percent improvement in antenatal care coverage and a 40 to 60 percent reduction in vaccine waste.
It was discovered that at Nigerian public boarding secondary schools that have installed solar equipment, student study hours increased by over 200 percent and the number of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) teaching hours rose by 30 percent. Also, the study showed that farmers that adopted solar-powered cold storage reduced postharvest loss (PHL) for perishable goods by up to 30 percent.
The study revealed that around 500,000 Nigerian households (1.25% of total households) use solar energy, which has resulted in upwards of 160,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions being avoided.
In markets that have been powered by solar panels in Nigeria, the study found that there is a 20 to 40 percent increase in operating hours of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and that they avoided the substantial inventory and sales losses resulting from fires caused by generators.
Commenting on the findings, Managing Director and Partner, BCG (West Africa), and Head of BCG Nigeria, Tolu Oyekan, said that installing solar in 18,000 PHCs that do not otherwise have access to reliable power could increase antenatal care coverage from current levels of 50 to 70 percent of pregnant women and with improved refrigeration vaccine wastage would be reduced by as much as 20 percent.
He also projected that providing solar to about 1,200 public boarding schools would increase average student study hours across the country from about 8 hours to 18 hours per week and improve ICT teaching hours by as much as 60 percent.
Oyekan added, “Based on current solar-powered cold storage adoption data, by electrifying 600,000 Nigerian farmers who currently don’t have cold storage facilities PHL could be slashed by as much as 60 percent, producing enough additional food to feed 6.5 million people annually.
“Assuming solar penetration among households in Nigeria reaches peer nation average of about 30 percent by 2030, an additional 5 million tonnes of CO2 can be avoided as emissions from households would be reduced by nearly 30 percent.
“Deploying solar to around 15 to 20 million MSMEs in markets without reliable grid electricity could increase income at these companies by $7 billion to $10 billion, some 40 percent of annual MSME earnings.”
BCG and All-On discovered that improvement in access to capital for consumer solar purchases, simplified import policies and skills development are required for Nigeria to fully experience the socioeconomic benefits of solar energy.
The study highlighted the need for promotional campaigns educating consumers about the benefits of solar power, fiscal incentives to attract investment into the solar sector as well as regulations to enforce solar equipment quality standards.