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The Emerging Market of Solar Energy- A Case Study of Nigeria

Talks With Martin Adaba of Tavarish Enterprises.

By Cathy (Christine Acheini) Ben-Ameh Published about a year ago 6 min read

I became interested in solar energy following my growing fascination with tiny and mobile home living and have often wondered about its affordability and sustainability in everyday living in any part of the world.

Growing up in Nigeria and being quite accustomed to power outages, and now living in the UK I often wonder what measures can be taken by Nigerians and other Africans outside of their governments to secure the electricity needed to run their homes and businesses; To me, solar energy is the most feasible option especially as most of Africa has access to the one most powerful natural resource required to power this energy source-

The Sun.

So why are Nigeria and other African nations still languishing under the poor standard of living that mediocre electricity supply often managed by corrupt governments brings? A few potential users and contractors of solar energy mention the high cost of setup and installation to be a major inhibiting factor in its assimilation into society just as generators have become the norm in most African homes over the last three decades.

Africa has more than enough renewable energy potential to meet its future demand. Image: IRENA

Africa’s renewable energy potential is 1,000 greater than its projected electricity demand by 2040, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). By that date, the share of renewables in southern and eastern Africa could grow to 63%, up from a fifth in 2016. Currently, more than half of the continent’s energy supply comes from fossil fuels, which also make up 40% of its exports.

Each year in Sub-Saharan Africa $50 billion worth of diesel fuel is used. In 17 countries in the region diesel generators actually produce more energy than the entire energy grid. This is a major source of pollution. In Nigeria, these generators’ emissions are equivalent to all of the country’s 150 million cars put together.

This and many concerns that call for the use of solar energy is the reason I connected with an old acquaintance and schoolmate of mine who is the CEO of Tavarish Enterprises, Martin Adaba, a leading contractor in solar energy products including solar panels, boreholes, CCTV products, and other related technology.

Cathy Ben-Ameh- Hello Martin. Thank you for joining me to discuss the emerging market of solar power in Nigeria.

Martin Adaba- Thank you. I am very happy to be here.

Cathy Ben-Ameh- How important is it for Nigeria to make the transition to renewable energy, and what effects of climate change are Nigerians noticing?

Martin Adaba- Nigeria desperately needs to transition to renewable energy considering the poor output of its national power grid. In addition, Nigeria is a country heavily dependent on fossil fuels, i.e; petroleum and diesel to power generators which are also in high demand. The use of this, in turn, has a heavy impact on the climate and contributes massively to the negative effects of climate change. The use of Solar energy as an alternative means of energy is and should be a welcome development and also a cleaner means of harnessing energy.

To the 2nd part of the question, Nigeria is experiencing the negative effects of climate change by way of irregular rains, devastating floods, and intense/unusual heat.

Cathy Ben-Ameh- Do you support the demand by poor countries that are dealing with climate-related disasters that rich countries should help them financially so they can cope with the consequences of climate change?

Martin Adaba- I am of the opinion that developed countries should aid developing countries financially in tackling the negative effects of climate change not as an obligatory act but as a social responsibility to mother earth to “heal” her. This can be done by means of organizing training and enlightenment programmes aimed at the use of cleaner and alternative energy sources e.g, the use of electrical cars, the use of solar energy to power houses and for cooking, the use of wind to create electricity etc.

Cathy Ben-Ameh- Are the Nigerian Authorities supporting the transition to Solar energy?

Martin Adaba- In my opinion, the Nigerian Govt has done very little to enhance the transition to solar energy. Take for example, a solar farm that was built along the Abuja Kaduna road… I can’t remember the specifications of the farm but since its inception several years ago(about 6years), it has been left to vandals and the forces of nature to reach a state of utter disuse and degeneration.

On the other hand, the president recently commissioned a mini solar plant in early April 2023 to augment the output of the national grid.

There is a pinch of awareness with regard to the use of solar energy in Nigerian government circles but I don’t see it going beyond that anytime soon due to its heavy dependence on generators, coal, and hydro power and the alleged behind-the-scenes moves of the so-called “Generator mafia” who make huge profits from generator sales.

Cathy Ben-Ameh- Are big commercial companies interested in solar energy as well?

Martin Adaba- Yes they are actually. They are looking to run at least a part of their manufacturing line. I know this because Tavarish Enterprises has been approached by a few of them and has given specifications. We have drawn up quotations for them and are awaiting feedback to commence installation. A lot of commercial companies are tired of running on diesel fuel for their daily activities and have started looking at solar as a dependable source of energy.

Cathy Ben-Ameh- What options are available for smaller households who couldn't otherwise afford to pay for such an intricate setup and how is solar energy more sustainable than the Generators most households in Nigeria already use?

Martin Adaba- Smaller households can still get a solar-powered setup but within their budget depending on the specifications they need. It is all about what appliances you want to power and what is within your budget. Tavarish Enterprises also engages in consultation services to advise its clients on what best suits their needs in line with their budget. It’s not always about the money but what services we render to the best of our abilities. Quality of service is our cardinal point.

In answer to the 2nd part of the question, solar-powered systems are an investment. To run a generator, especially in Nigeria, entails the purchase of fuel/diesel regularly, the maintenance in terms of oil changes, spare parts purchases due to wear and tear, and so on. All of these can lead to spending more than 2 million every year for an average individual. With regard to solar power, one can spend up to 2 million naira or less on installation depending on the power need of the house coupled with yearly maintenance depending on the batteries, depending on the type of batteries they use. For the type of batteries Tavarish Enterprises supplies which are Lithium ion phosphate batteries that require less maintenance; the yearly maintenance is cut in half thereby proving to be less expensive compared to generators.

Cathy Ben-Ameh- Installing solar panels is a skilled trade. How do you find staff?

Martin Adaba- Tavarish Enterprises works with extremely skilled electricians who are up to date in installation and safety standard requirements. Getting these staff is actually quite tedious and requires the duty of care when selecting them. Electrical and Electronic Engineering graduates are a top priority in hiring staff that fit the profile to deliver the best services to our clients.

Cathy Ben-Ameh- What do you think is the way forward in creating a Nigerian society where there is uninterrupted electricity?

Martin Adaba- In my opinion, if the government looks at other forms of electricity generation, then having uninterrupted power supply will be a dream come through. Investing heavily in electricity generation research and development, engaging and investing in the private sector more in alternative electricity generation will go a long way in eradicating epileptic power supply.

Solar energy and wind energy are other investments that the government can invest in that will yield lasting results in the crusade against epileptic power supply in Nigeria.

Cathy Ben-Ameh- Thanks for taking the time to have a chat with me. It's all been quite enlightening.

That's it for today. If you live in Nigeria and are looking to engage in your own solar power supply, reach out to Tavarish Enterprises HERE.


About the Creator

Cathy (Christine Acheini) Ben-Ameh


Cathy Ben-Ameh has published two books; "The Impact of Music Streaming on The Music Industry: Case study-Spotify" and "'13- A Chapbook of 13 Short Poems".

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