The Socio-Economic Impacts of Solar Energy on Rural Developments in Nigeria

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Energy is a very essential component for any social development and economic growth of a nation. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report (2014a), around 1.5 to 2 billion people lack access to electricity, and a billion more have only an unreliable and intermittent supply. Also, 16% of world’s population will still have no electricity by 2030. In Africa, it is estimated that more than 620 million people live without access to electricity and about 730 million people use and rely on hazardous and inefficient forms of energy. Precisely, 85% of the populations estimated above also live in rural areas (IEA, 2010). Despite the growing Africa population, the continent is adversely affected by energy crisis which has been persistent over the years and has raise eyebrows among scholars, researchers and policy makers. Although, electricity is necessary for improvement in the quality of life of a country’s population especially the rural communities (RECP, 2014; IEA, 2014a), lack of access to electricity in most rural communities especially in Nigeria continues to downgrade any chance for the inhabitants to improve their socio-economic conditions. This phenomenon certainly has negative impact on the socio-economic well-being of people living in rural communities, furthermore the effect of carbon emissions (CO2) couple with climate change system have resulted to drought, faming, destitution and rural-urban migration problems in Africa.

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Energy crisis is seen in the fact that Nigeria as the most populous black nation on earth, despite its huge abundant natural resources, it is still one of the poorest in the world with an estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of $2,092 (IMF, 2017). Also with a total population of above 183 million people (www.worldometers.info), 55% of the population have no access to grid connected electricity (Nigeria Power Baseline Report, nesistats.org) from which only 35% are rural dwellers could only access electricity, while 55% of the urban dwellers could access electricity. Thus, the major impeding factors to electricity generations, transmissions, and distributions to these rural areas have to do with geographical location, cost of transportation, and poor government commitments. As one of the key fundamentals for economic development for many years, low energy supply have had negative impact in various socio-economic development of the economy, the worst case scenarios is especially in low agricultural production, this also increase hardship to women where they spend more time in energy-generating related activities such as firewood gathering. Similarly, it has also affected health activities (refrigerating vaccines) machines for tests not been able to operate optimally, the effect is also felt by students who find it difficult to study when it is dark and business have shorter hours because they do not have electricity to sell their commodities at night.

Despite the enormous amount of money the federal government of Nigeria has pumped into the power sector since the country switched to democratic regime in 1999 (Vanguard, 2015), the rural communities still lack access to power supply for their socio-economic activities. The Energy Commission of Nigeria, through the World Bank, some states governments of Bauchi, Benue, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Delta, Taraba, Ogun, Zamfara, Rivers, and Nassarawa, the Education Tax Fund, and some few international organizations like United States Department of Energy and Jigawa Alternative Energy Trust Fund have sponsored the installation of many solar energy systems for use to various communities across the country majorly electrifying the rural communities. The switch to the use of solar power system is seen as more economical, cost effective and ecofriendly (Usman, 2015).

It is also of great importance to note that power generation through solar grids for rural communities are generally of small capacity with loads ranging between 5 kW to 500 kW (World Bank 2008a), the socio-economic impacts of these particular projects on the local communities raises some concerns. The concern is whether solar electricity being provided can impact the social, economic, and the environmental conditions of the local communities for which the project is being implemented, therefore the need to examine the potential socio-economic impacts of solar energy on the local communities in Nigeria with reference to the Gbamu-Gbamu community in Ijebu East LCDA in Ogun state. 1.1 PROBLEM STATEMENT Rural electrification has been the basis of rural energy strategies in developing countries. It is also a source of controversy among development analysts. Advocates of rural electrification claim that it has major impacts on agricultural and industrial productivity, reduces rural-urban migration, creates more jobs and significantly raises the overall quality of life in rural areas. Critics claim that rural electrification may not have the hope for effects on social and economic life and in its unequal incidence could contribute to social tension. The United Nations has established the positive relationship between per capital energy consumption and the human development index (HDI) of many countries and there is empirical evidence to show that access to modern energy and human development are closely linked. (IEA, UNDP, 2005). A review of rural electrification programs embarked upon in developing countries shows that there is limited knowledge regarding the actual field performance of the technologies used in rural electrification programs. For instance in Zimbabwe, experience with the GEF- UNDP funded solar home system project shows that most companies formed to foster the market did not survive once the project came to an end (Yacob, et al., 2000). An attempt to provide rural households with electricity using hydro-powered mini-grid systems had limited success in Lesotho (Taele, et al., 2012). The implementation of a hybrid solar-biogas mini-grid project at Sekhutlane village in Botswana was delayed due to technical and managerial challenges (Klintenberg, et al., 2014). In Nigeria, a country rich with mineral resources such as solar, wind, hydro, thermal energy and bioenergy is currently producing about 7,000 MW of capacity for a population of over 180 million citizens which is too little too insufficient as a nation. Although the vice president while speaking at the 3rd Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja affirm that the aim of this present government is to realize its target of delivering 10,000 MW as captured in the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) of the current administration. The need to ensure constant electricity supply to the entire part of the country is long overdue as businesses and other economic activities cannot thrive without it. The Minister of Power Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, revealed a Road Map for Steady, Incremental and Uninterrupted Power Supply at the time he took over office. The Roadmap which seek to increase power generation capacity by the use of other sources of energy including solar, wind, hydro and coal. This is because the government has seen the need to tap into these sources as it would help provide solution to power problems in Nigeria. This he Said will be achieved through embarking on projects which includes the 3,050MW Mambilla hydroelectric power project in Taraba State, the 10MW Vergnet SA wind power farm project located in Katsina State, the 1200MW Zuma power project in Kogi State, as well as the solar mini grids which will be located in Ogun, Zamfara and Sokoto states respectively to light up rural communities across the country.

Access to electricity is fundamental for socio-economic development and poverty alleviation. A huge developmental challenge in Nigeria is reaching out to the over 60-70% of the Nigerian population that does not have access to electricity services most importantly those in the rural areas. Alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind and other biotechnology are good and wonderful options because they are limitless. We will not run out of them as we may run out of the fossils fuels which are the major sources of energy in Nigeria since the hydro power could not serve over 180 million people. Climate change, which is cause as a result of carbon emissions and environmental pollution, is drawing world attention and forcing governments all over the world to formulate policies that will make their nations adapt the use of renewable energy sources to cut environmental pollution to the barest minimum because global warming has become a major issue and problem of the world today and in the future. Therefore this study will be significant as it looks into how Nigeria has been able to explore other sources of energy to tackle the problem of electricity in the country with focus on solar energy. The Nigerian government in collaboration with various international agencies invested in solar electricity in various parts of the country with aim of providing power to rural communities so as to foster social and economic developments. This study will also examine whether the solar projects which is aimed at improving the economic and social activities in the rural communities have been effective as well as its impacts on the dwellers.

Ogun State, one of the fast developing state in Nigeria; lying in the south western part of the country between latitudes 206?N and306?E of the Greenwich Meridian. The state is bounded on the west by the Republic of Benin and on the East by Ondo State. To the North is Oyo State while Lagos State and the Atlantic Ocean are to the South. The geographical location of the state makes it accessible to the economically developed regions in Nigeria. Abeokuta, the state capital is about 103km and 70km from Lagos and Ibadan respectively by road. The other notable urban centres in the state such as Ota (a fast growing industrial centre) is about 17km from Lagos while Sagamu and Ijebu ode are about 65km and 75km respectively from Lagos and 102km and 70km respectively from Ibadan by road. Ijebu East local government area on the other hand is located at 6?°44?N4?°10?E. Bothered by Lagos lagoon in the south (Wikipedia), the area covers a land mass of 2,234km?? with a population of 110,196 inhabitant as at the 2006 census. The area is divided into three main districts (Fetedo with about 25 towns, Ogbere with about 48 towns and Ojowo with about 13 towns). Among the economic activities people of Ijebu East engage in are farming, fishing and quarrying as there are several quarry industries situated along the major Lagos-Ibadan road.

Affordable, accessible and secure supply of energy plays a driving force for socio-economic development of a country. A number of recent studies reveal how rural electrification from solar energy in particular helps in socio-economic development of the country in various ways. In this circumstance, solar energy is widely perceived as a promising technology for electricity generation in remote location of the developing countries. This chapter attempts to focus on the review of selected literatures, key concept of solar energy as a driving force for socio-economic development, issues and factors such as access and affordability of solar energy; success stories and problems; socio-economic and environmental impacts such as household income, health, education; project planning, design and implementation, access to information and other infrastructural services and a lot more. Several authors and sources have defined solar energy in various ways, (Adeyemo, 2013) defines it as a systematic and well organized method of electricity generation as a result of the direct conversion of solar radiation into a direct current electricity through semiconductors of photovoltaic effect. It is the conversion of solar radiation to electricity using solar cell which can be used for water pumping for irrigation in the rural areas, lightings and other proposes (Akinboro, et el., 2015). Matungwa (2014) defines it as a sustainable source in the sense that it does not provide greenhouse gas emissions and proves to be environmental friendly sources of energy. The United Stated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), see solar energy as environmentally friendly because the sun is a natural energy source that does not require the burning of fossil fuels and associated air emissions. Maycock (1999) defines solar energy as the direct conversion of sun radiation into electricity. This is particularly because solar energy conversion is based on photovoltaic effect. Solar modules converts the sun light directly into electricity.

Rural electrification means providing easy access to affordable electricity in rural area. Majority of population in developing counties lives in rural areas, and rural electrification is perceived as the key to drive socio-economic transformation in such areas. Widespread electrification of rural areas started during 1930s, mainly in the United States and the more economically advanced European countries (Foley, 1990). United State Agency for International Development (USAID) designed a model of rural electrification in the early 1970s and the model was replicated in most developing countries (Barnes, 1988). Now-a-days the spread of rural electrification can be achieved by either centralized supply or decentralized approaches. The centralized approach refers to connecting villages and remote areas to a national grid, which is often owned and operated by a public utility (Goldemberg, 2000), this is the current approach we make use of in Nigeria. Rural electrification through centralized approach involves high capital cost. As a result, remote, less-densely populated areas remained far behind the access to regular and uninterrupted electricity. In contrast, decentralized approaches for rural electrification, access to power is not provided by a national grid, but instead generated locally near the place of consumption. The most common technologies for rural electrification are diesel generators, solar photovoltaic (Solar Home System) and small wind generators (Abdulla, 2015). A study undertaken by the World Bank for 11 countries reveals that rural electrification results great benefits such as improvements of health facilities, better health from cleaner environment as households reduce use of polluting fuels for cooking, lighting and heating, improved knowledge through increase access to television and better nutrition from improved knowledge and storage facilities from refrigerator (World Bank. The Welfare Impact of Rural Electrification, 2008).

Different studies on renewable energy in particular solar energy, sees the system as a channel to development and transformation of lives in the rural areas. It has been proved with no doubt that solar energy can and has positively impacted the rural livelihoods. These is evident in the areas of Education, health, employment status, electric devises application, information and communication to mention a few have all proved the capacity of solar energy is the developmental process in the rural areas. Studies also revealed that the system have positive impact on the socio-economic development of the people in most of the areas where different solar projects have been implemented.

Electrification is believed to have a direct impact on education improvement in a sense that it can impact education by improving the quality of schools, either through the provision of electricity dependent equipment, or increasing teachers quantity and quality (teachers attraction to the electrified villages); and study time allocation at home, with increased study time though the availability of TV may decrease that time (but at the same time it may also possibly provide educational benefits) IEGWB (2008). Buragohain (2012) in her work Impact of Solar Energy in Rural Development in India; provides that getting light for children to study at night might results in major improvement in their education performance. This has been argued a lot more in a number of studies. Nolens (2010) posit that solar electricity allows children in the rural areas to have more time to study at night with better quality of light, hence improvement in the educational performance. The introduction of solar electricity in Zambia improved education as 82 percent of households reported that school children achieved extended hours of studies at night, which was previously opposite (Gustavsson, 2007). ESMAP (2002) see rural electrification as important for lighting up schools for better education attainment, whereas the ESMAP (2003) report shows the lack of electricity in Peru resulted into diminished quality of life and poor education. According to the reports, rural electrification enables the application of ICT for better education as the examples drawn from Honduras explain, ESMAP (2002). For example children in electrified households have higher education levels than those without electricity as revealed in the ESMAP Philippines ESMAP (2003).

On the other hand, Zomers (2001) many studies on the effects of electrification on education and children’s study routines, identified that excessive exposure to TV and radio as a result of access to electricity and complementary home electronics can only improve students’ knowledge of the languages used in various broadcasts but likely to reduce the hours spent on studies. Confirmation from Kenya indicates that the role of solar electrification in expediting economic productivity and children education-related activities is rather insignificant compared to connective applications such as radio, TV, and mobile telephone charging (Jacobson, 2007).

Economic development depends on energy. In general, energy is not considered as a basic human need. In the past, rural energy, in particular, was not widely accepted as a basic need like water and food in the development circles (Clancy, 1999 cited by Cecelski, 2003). Nonetheless, energy, particularly electricity is required for meeting basic needs such as health, agriculture, education, information and other infrastructural services and shows a clear correlation with per capita income and human development index (Anderson, 2000; Gillis et al, 1992; Rehling, 2002). Obeng and Evers (2010) have shown how micro-enterprises in some rural and isolated communities in Ghana extended working hours and saved money by switching from kerosene to solar electrification. The solar electrification accrued additional benefits in the community as night vendors; exceptionally women also spent less on kerosene as well as petrol for their generators by selling items such as bread and beverages, fruits, porridge and many others in front of or close to a micro-enterprise as a way of benefiting from the external light without which their business activities halted after sunset. Kirubi et al., (2009) revealed an increased capacity to generate income from the supply of electricity from solar energy in a rural town in Kenya.

 

Chaurey and Mohanty (2007) also in their study on the impact of socioeconomic development in remote communities of Sunderbans, India, reveal that there have been improvement in economic activities, especially for women through the provision of reliable electricity from a renewable solar source. In their study of quantitative impacts of solar energy on television viewing and radio listening in off grid rural Ghana, Obeng and Kumi (2014) discovered that solar energy electrified households avoided substantial cost using solar electricity to watch television than non-electrified households that used car battery to watch television. Subsequently, solar energy users saved money and improved their finances on like their counterparts. Likewise, Palit et al., (2014) disclosed that solar mini-grid project in Chhattisgarh State, India contributed to the socioeconomic development of the community through mobile phone, TV and radio use, leading to increase in flow of information and social awareness. Also reduction in the use of kerosene resulted in environmental benefits and resultant decline in total household expenditure on kerosene fuels. Chakrabarti and Chakrabarti (2002) conducted a study on Sagar Dweep’ island in India considering the environmental and socio-economic factors and found that solar energy was beneficial from a sociological perspective, which led to a substantial progress in trade as women received wider involvement in community activities and additional work.

The study further concluded that in an attempt to calculate the actual cost of electricity generated by solar energy also require equal analysis of how and in what ways availability of electricity impacts the social and economic life of rural dwellers, most importantly isolated areas where grid-connection is impractical. Gurung et al., (2011) established that installation of a solar energy system for Tangting village increased household income levels significantly as the scheme unlocked opportunities for other employment after the installation. Contrarily, Nieuwenhout et al., (2000) and Martinot et al, (2002) argued that no evidence had been found supporting widespread or substantial increases in rural income or productive activities connecting to solar electrification. Solar energy and environment impact Putting the environmental effect into consideration whilst providing basic electricity services to isolated rural populations, advocates of solar energy claim that the systems have also facilitated sustainable development by producing invaluable contributions towards environmental protection (Kaufmann, et al., 2000; Chaurey & Kandpal, 2010; Gurung et al., 2011; Goetzberger & Hoffmann, 2005). Practically solar mini-grids substitute electric light for all hydrocarbon-based energy sources and the displacement of kerosene lamps, domestic generators, candles, dry cell and car batteries constituting a greater part of direct carbon benefit in solar mini-grids (Kaufman et al., 2000). For instance, the solar home system (SHS) projects have displaced a colossal 15.2-21.3 litres/month of kerosene use in rural Argentina, 12.0 litres/month in Burkina Faso and 5.0 litres/month in Bolivia (Chaurey & Kandpal, 2010).

In same vein, Obeng et al., (2008) found that 89% of non-electrified rural households in Ghana relying on kerosene and lanterns for lighting were affected by indoor smoke, whereas 40% of households combining two sources of energy for lighting, for example, solar energy and kerosene lanterns were affected by indoor smoke. However, the findings indicated that households that relied solely on solar energy lighting were not affected by indoor smoke, establishing further that solar energy lighting assists households to lessen the adverse effects of indoor air smoke. Moreover, rural dwellers rely heavily on dry cell batteries to power radio/cassette players and torchlight and also engage in indiscriminate disposal of used dry cell batteries that can pollute soil and water bodies with toxins, including mercury, which electricity from solar energy systems can displace (Kaufman et al., 2000). Tsoutsos et al., (2005) state that solar energy are normally considered to possess less harmful environmental impact, generating no noise or chemical pollutants during use, however, generic impacts such as land use, batteries, and solar waste after end-of-life can present serious environmental concerns in large scale solar electrification. According to ARE/USAID (2011) hybrid genset-solar mini-grid, though, comparatively clean can produce noise pollution and have direct health impact on local users if the system is located inside or very close to the community.

Another issue that raises eyebrows is deforestation in most developing countries, especially in Nigeria which can be attributed to the lack of access to appropriate energy sources in rural communities that causes people to depend heavily on biomass (woodfuels) for heating, cooking, and lighting purposes (Gyamfi et al., 2015; Arthur, Baidoo, & Antwi, 2011). Studies have shown that there is a difference in the reduction of biomass reliance which can be attributed to the increase in solar electricity and lighting systems over time, which is positive for the environment. Gurung et al., (2011) found that the provision of a renewable energy source for Tangting community reduced deforestation and improved greenery in the village and also replaced the use of dry cell batteries, which disposal posed a threat to ecosystems. 2.2.4 Solar energy and health Public health is a critical sector in off-grid communities. Solar energy can have a significant impact on livelihoods in rural areas. The replacement of kerosene lanterns with solar electrification reduces indoor air pollution, which affects the health and wellbeing of rural families. World Bank has classed indoor air pollution in developing countries among the four most critical global environmental problems (Cecelski, 2003). Indoor air smoke contributes to respiratory infections that account for up to 20 percent of the 11 million deaths of children each year (DFID cited by UNDP, 2004). Solar energy helps to improve health by reducing acute respiratory infection and conjunctivitis, commonly caused by indoor pollution (Cabraal et al, 1996).

But there is lack of quantitative data on the likely proportion of reduction of indoor air smoke from kerosene lantern by using solar light. Solar electric water pumps also can provide clean water, reducing the effort need for collection. Solar electricity can make possible the refrigeration of vaccines and operation of medical equipment in rural health clinics. A healthy life is a key indicator in the capability approach to poverty (Pearce, 2002). Women in labour need clean light to have safe child delivery at any time. In a rural clinic where there is no electricity, women deliver under very uncomfortable conditions due to the lack of essential equipment, medical facilities and poor visibility after sunset. So it is necessary to re-emphasize the need for pragmatic policies to set up environmental health“friendly technologies like solar electrification to operate remote rural health centres efficiently. 2.4.5 Other areas of socio-economic impacts of solar electrification The role agriculture plays in food security and economic development is very vital. Securing access to water plays a strategic role in ensuring agricultural production (FAO, 2005). In this regard, solar water pumping can be used to supply water for dry land irrigation. Addressing energy issues related to agriculture and off-farm activities can help to increase prospects for income generation in rural households/enterprises by providing energy for irrigation, food processing, food preservation and many types of manual production during evening hours (Etcheverry, 2003; Martinot, 2004). Power shortage and low voltage affect irrigation for the electricity operated pumps causing lower production of crops. Besides diesel operated pumps require increasing price for petroleum.

Also putting into consideration the energy crisis of most developing countries face across the globe, it is important to explore alternative energy sources for irrigation to ensure both food and energy security (Abdulla, 2015). Solar Irrigation System (SIS) is an innovative, economic and environmentally friendly solution for the agro-based economy of a country like in Nigeria. SIS allows farmers to crop paddy more than once in a year and replacement of part of agricultural pumps with Solar technology could also offset considerable Green House Gases (GHG) emission (Hridkamol Biswas & Faisal Hossain, 2013). Solar electrification also helps micro-enterprises to generate additional income by extending their working hours after dusk (Grameen Communications, 1999; Allderdice and Rogers, 2000; DFID, 2002). With solar power people can operate rice-grinding mill in rural area. Small rural stores can also expand their inventory by adding items that can be preserved using solar-powered refrigerators (Allderdice and Rogers, 2000, Etcheverry, 2003). For example, solar powered icemakers can assist village micro enterprises in fishing, sale of ice cubes and cold drinks. It also creates business as manufacture, wholesale suppliers, retails sale business, service business such as system design, system installation, consulting service etc.

The introduction of solar electrification in the rural areas can creates an opportunity for the villagers to open up small businesses like mobile phone charging shops, computer training centres, TV and mobile shops. Solar electrification program in rural areas can have tremendous impact especially on women and children. Women and children in particular will have more time for education, leisure and economic activity. Women can enjoy hassle free lightening and earn extra money by utilizing their time after sunset by sewing or poultry farming (Abdulla, 2015). Women in rural areas spend 2-6 hours a day for collecting fire wood due to lack of electricity (Cabraal, et al, 1996). Solar energy is public goods. Poor people in remote and isolated area can use modern technology by solar energy application. Using mobile phone, solar power-based computer and internet, people can get government decision easily. They can participate and raise opinion in many government issues. Marginalized people can establish their right. It ensures inclusion of marginalized poor in the road map of economic growth and development of a country as these activities ensure good governance.

Despite the good solar radiation that is available across the globe, solar electrification still face a lot of challenges confronting the acquisition, installation and development of solar electrification both in Nigeria and other parts of the world. Some of them ranging from planning to financing, maintenance, installation and environmental problems to mention a few. These issues need to be addressed if appreciable progress has to be made. 2.3.1 Level of awareness and information The level of awareness about the immense socio-economic, development and environmental benefits derivable from solar energy among the citizens and decision-makers at different political and administrative levels is very low in Nigeria (Olayinka, et al., 2014). Those that are aware of it thought solar energy can only power few watt of lightning. They are not aware of the fact that it is in modular form and can be connected in series and parallel to achieve the desired power output running into Kilowatt or Megawatt of electricity which can power an entire community. Therefore there is need to educate people on the essence of having solar energy to power a community, its capacity, maintenance as well as usefulness so that we can be more informed about the latest technology that can be more

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The Socio-Economic Impacts Of Solar Energy On Rural Developments In Nigeria. (2019, Jul 11). Retrieved December 8, 2022 , from
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